Conyers: Intelligence Community is Not Exempt from Congressional Oversight & Public Accountability
(WASHINGTON) – Today, the House of Representatives voted 345-59 to approve H.R. 4681, the “Intelligence Authorization for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015.” After voting against the legislation, U.S. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich) issued the following statement:
U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr.
“The Intelligence Authorization Act can and should be an annual vehicle for reform of the intelligence community. Last week, with the passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, Congress showed that both critics and defenders of the National Security Agency (NSA) can reach consensus and implement meaningful change to government surveillance programs. Regrettably, that spirit of compromise and reform did not prevail today,” said Conyers.
“Government surveillance is not the only area in need of improvement in the intelligence community. H.R. 4681, the ‘Intelligence Authorization Act,’ excludes even modest efforts to address cybersecurity, whistleblower protections, increased transparency, and drone warfare. Because the bill falls far short on each of these matters - and because the Members introducing these reforms were not provided even the courtesy of open debate - I did not support this bill.
“As my friend Judge Damon J. Keith once stated in a ruling against secret deportation hearings, ‘Democracies die behind closed doors.’ While I recognize the necessity of guarding some of the intelligence community’s clandestine activities, matters that impact the civil liberties and safety of all Americans cannot be conducted in a manner that shuts out Congress and leaves the public in the dark.”