Marco Rubio: There Are Historic Challenges Facing Congressional Oversight of Intelligence Activities

Over the weekend, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the acting chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:

Congressional oversight of intelligence activities now faces a historic crisis.

Intelligence agencies have a legal obligation to keep Congress informed of their activities. And members of Congress have a legal obligation to not divulge classified information. In my short time as acting chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have witnessed firsthand how this delicate balance has been destroyed.

We worked collaboratively with intelligence officials to create a process to regularly brief all members of Congress and to regularly inform, with as much detail as possible, the American people on foreign threats to the 2020 election.

Consistent with our requests, Mr. Evanina, a career member of the intelligence community who has served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, released the first of a planned series of statements to the American public on threats to the 2020 elections. His reward was to be smeared in vile and personal terms in a letter signed by Democratic leaders of Congress.

Also consistent with our requests, career officials from various intelligence agencies briefed virtually every member of the House and then the Senate in a series of small group briefings. Yet, before the second day of House briefings had begun, the classified information they had shared was already in the media.

And in response to widespread bipartisan encouragement, Mr. Evanina issued the most specific and public pre-election foreign threat notification in American history — a public notice that divulged the names of various actors behind efforts to undermine the 2020 election. And the response from the usual congressional suspects was to employ their usual tactic, to disingenuously imply that additional and relevant information was being withheld because it was damaging to the president.

Divulging access to classified information in order to employ it as a political weapon is not only an abuse, it is a serious federal crime with potentially severe consequences on our national security. This situation we now face is due, in no small part, to the willingness of some to commit federal crimes for the purpose of advancing their electoral aims.

Yet, this grotesque criminal misconduct does not release the intelligence community from fulfilling its legal requirements to respond to congressional oversight committees and to keep members of Congress fully informed of relevant information on a timely basis. I have spoken to the Director Radcliffe who stated unequivocally that he will continue to fulfill these obligations. In particular, he made explicitly clear that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will continue receiving briefings on all oversight topics, including election matters.

Democrats and Republicans on our committee will continue to exercise vigorous and thorough oversight over our nation’s intelligence activities in full compliance with our obligations and duties under the law. And we will continue to expect timely and complete information from our intelligence agencies.

 

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