AFA Conference: A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have presented a new bill designed to increase congressional oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its main client, the National Security Agency. Obviously, the bill was sparked by the flood of classified information released by the international fugitive and former intelliegnce contractor Edward Snowden.
The bill, presented by a balanced group of four, includes Reps. Mike Thompson (D), Frank LoBiondo (R), Luis Gutierrez (D), and Randy Forbes (R).
The new bill, HR 3103, would require the Attorney General share with Congress all decisions, orders or opinions that “include a denial of an IC (Intelligence Community) request, a modification of an IC request, or results in a change to any legal interpretation of FISA with Congress.”
Under current practices the Attorney General only shares information with Congress if the court issue includes a “significant construction or interpretation of the law.” Forcing reporting of all decisions “will increase the Congressional oversight of Intelligence Community tools and programs to ensure their proper use,” according to a statement the four members issued yesterday.
Does this bill have a chance of passage? First, its sponsors are pretty impressive and are bipartisan. Thompson is ranking member of the House Permanent Select Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism, human intelligence, analysis and counterintelligence. LoBiondo sits on both Armed Services and the HPSCI. Gutierrez sits on the HPSCI and Forbes is chairman of the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee.
And the HPSCI’s ranking member, Dutch Ruppersberger, is giving it a chance — at least. Here’s a statement from his office:
“It is our goal to increase transparency and we are currently considering a number of ways to do so. We look forward to evaluating this, and other foreign intelligence bills, as they are introduced and we work toward further improvements to our privacy and national security laws.”