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As the Constitution begins its third century, the system of congressional oversight of covert action is only in its second decade. In the ancient history of covert action – before the intelligence oversight reforms of the l 970s – Congress did not involve itself in covert operations. After giving the Central Intelligence Agency standing authority to "perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct," Congress paid little attention to what the Executive did under this authority. The era of congressional noninvolvement came to an end with the Watergate disclosures of intelligence activities that many Americans found reprehensible, the ensuing investigations into assassination attempts and other controversial covert actions, and the adoption of a new statutory framework for congressional oversight of the intelligence agencies.


Constitutional Law | International Law | Law | Military, War, and Peace


© 1989 American Society of International Law. This article has been published in the American Journal of International Law and is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.