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Role of the Congress in Strategic Intelligence Essay

Role of the Congress in Strategic Intelligence

Introduction

            The Congress is one of government that plays a major role in the running of the country by performing various roles. The Congress is made up of Congress Members who are elected to represent the people on matters of policy making and passing of laws in the country. The Congress has other roles that it plays such as the passing of budgets and passing of bills that determine how the government is run, hence the Congress is an important organ of the government.

Congress and Strategic Intelligence

            The United States government relies a lot on the intelligence gathered in running its operations, mostly on matters of foreign policy. The Congress comes in handy on strategic intelligence with the role of a supervisory body that it plays. The Congress plays the role of a supervisor over intelligence agencies within the country that are under the mandate of the Congress. The role of the Congress is to oversee the functions of various agencies that are under the Congress. Strategic intelligence simply refers to the intelligence that is highly required by the policymakers for the purpose of making policies and making of military decisions at both the international and the national level.

            The Congress is mandated to oversee that the agencies that operate under it are well funded, operate within the laid down guidelines through carrying out of investigations on suspected and known problems. Furthermore, the Congress provides a full report to the House on the matters that have been investigated and the budgets. The roles of the Congress on matters of strategic intelligence are carried out through committees that are comprised of Congress members that have been selected and led by a chairperson.

            Furthermore, the Congress as the policymaking body plays a great role in the Intelligence cycle whereby the Congress performs the function of formulating the requirements to be used by the Intelligence Community on the various topics to be covered. The guidelines provided by the Congress are mainly about the strategies that are to be used in the collection of strategic intelligence by the Intelligence Community and the intelligence products that are needed.

Congress and Intelligence Community Budget appropriation policies

            The role of the Congress as mentioned above is that of an oversight body that seeks to ensure that strategic intelligence within the government is well coordinated and used for the right purpose as well as collected following stipulated guidelines. The role of the Congress as an oversight body over the Intelligence Community on matters of strategic intelligence ensures that the policies are followed. The Congress ensures that the policies are followed through the Authorization and Appropriation process, Investigations and the Government Accountability Office.

            The Congress holds the power to make authorizations and the appropriation of funds for various programs involving strategic intelligence and includes clauses that are non-budget related to ensure the policies are followed. Therefore, the Intelligence Community must comply with the policies set so that they can get their budgets approved. The other way of ensuring compliance is through investigations. When the Congress perceives abuse of intelligence or failures by the Intelligence Community and other committees involved, investigations are instigated. Through investigation, the Congress is able to establish where the problem is and make corrections.

            The investigations by the Congress ensure that the policies set are followed in fear of being reprimanded. Last but not least, the other way that the role of the Congress ensures that the policies are followed regarding the budgets and funds appropriation is through the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO is considered to be the investigative arm that is part of the Congress and it is mainly focused on matters and issues that are related to budgets of the Intelligence Community. The GAO is a non-partisan organization that carries out objective audit and the evaluation of agencies that offer strategic intelligence.

            The Government Accountability Office helps the Congress in carrying out its role of an oversight body through provision of financial insight capabilities. The Congress relies on the GAO for audit reports and financial oversight of Intelligence Community and other agencies that are under its mandate. The audits by GAO are considered to be tools that the Congress uses to ensure that the policies on laws about budgets and appropriation of funds are followed by the concerned parties or agencies (Pendleton, 2014, p.1-33). Therefore, through the various bodies and methods discussed above, the role of the Congress of an oversight body over strategic intelligence ensures that the expressed policies in the budgets and appropriations are followed by all the relevant agencies.

Congress and People’s national security provision by executive branch

            The role of the Congress of acting as an oversight body over the Intelligence Community in many occasions overlaps the authorities and the responsibilities of the executive. There is constant competition between the legislative arm, the Congress, and the executive branch of government hence the overlap of authorities and responsibilities tend to cause some tensions. This is due to the reason that each of the arms of government struggle with each other to accomplish certain objectives using their authority and powers. Therefore, the oversight role of the Congress faces a challenge regarding separation of powers within the government.

            However, the role of the Congress of an oversight body ensures that the executive branch of government carries out the will of the people as well as the necessity of the national security through Congressional Hearings. The Congress normally invites and to some extent, compels members that are high-ranking within the executive branch to make appearances before the Congress (Chafetz, 2009, p.1083-1156). The members are always asked targeted questions with an aim of creating more transparency and ensure that the Intelligence Community carries out its operations effectively.

            The nominations process is another way that the role of the Congress as an oversight body ensures that the executive performs its duties accordingly. The president normally does the nomination of the top leaders of the Intelligence Community and members . After the nomination of the Intelligence Community members, the Senate is tasked with the responsibility of confirming the nominations. Therefore, the Congress ensures that the executive performs its duty of ensuring the will of the people is carried out as well as the national security necessity by denying or regulating conformation of nominated members.

Conclusion

            The Congress plays an important role in matters of strategic intelligence through exercising the various powers of policy making as well as that of an oversight body within the government. The role of the Congress is supported by the constitution although there is constant challenge of the executive in matters of intelligence. The separation of powers between the two organs of government is what needs to be addressed so that each can carry out its duties without infringing on

References

Berkowitz, Bruce D., and Allan E. Goodman. 1989. Strategic intelligence for American national security. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. P.27-30

Chafetz, Josh. 2009. “Executive Branch Contempt of Congress.” University Of Chicago Law Review 76, no. 3: 1083-1156.

Divoll, Vicki. 2011. “president obama’s first two years: a legal reflection: the ‘full access doctrine’: congress’s constitutional entitlement to national security information from the executive.” Harvard Journal Of Law & Public Policy 34, 493.

Johnson, Loch K. 2006. Strategic intelligence. Westport, Conn: Praeger Security International. P.159-161

Johnson, Loch K. 2007. Strategic intelligence understanding the hidden side of government. Westport, Conn: Praeger Security International. P.166-168

Love, Jeffrey A., and Arpit K. Garg. 2014. “Presidential inaction and the separation of powers.” Michigan Law Review 112, no. 7: 1195-1250.

Pendleton, John H. 2014. “DOD Needs to Improve Future Assessments of Roles and Missions.” GAO Reports 1-33.

Rutledge, Paul E., and Heather A. Larsen Price. 2014. “The President as Agenda Setter-in-Chief: The Dynamics of Congressional and Presidential Agenda Setting.” Policy Studies Journal 42, no. 3: 443-464.

Walker, David M. 2008. “Intelligence Reform: GAO-08-413T.” GAO Reports 1.

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