From Daily Docket blog...an excerpt:
Four years before President Harry Truman issued the first executive order on classified information, he signed into law the National Security Act of 1947, which "realigned and reorganized the United States' armed forces, foreign policy, and intelligence community apparatus in the aftermath of World War II." This act remains in force today, as amended, and provides for general Congressional oversight of current and planned intelligence activities, § 413, and a presidential duty to keep [the entire membership of] congressional intelligence committees fully and currently informed of all covert actions, § 413b.
Subsection (c)(2) of 413b is where we find the President, "to meet extraordinary circumstances affecting vital interests of the United States," can limit access to the required written intelligence "findings" to the "Gang of Eight." (Sections 421, 422, and 426 of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 codified nearby are the provisions providing criminal penalties for disclosing the identity of a covert agent.)
Requirements of the 1947 Act were referenced in the Truman and Eisenhower executive orders on classified information linked above; and the Clinton and Bush orders both contain identical language in (now) Section 6.2, General Provisions:
(a) Nothing in this order shall supersede any requirement made by or under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, or the National Security Act of 1947, as amended.And yet, on October 5, 2001, Bush issued this order to the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Defense, the Attorney General, and the Directors of the CIA and the FBI:
The only Members of Congress whom you or your expressly designated officers may brief regarding classified or sensitive law enforcement information are the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate.The strategy ever since 9/11 seems to be to use § 413b(c)(2) to limit the entire Congressional intelligence oversight process to the Gang of Eight, under a purportedly continuous state of "extraordinary circumstances affecting vital interests of the United States."
And the Congress we have now is rolling over for it.