Washington, D.C. House Democrats are pushing for a big increase in the number of lawmakers who hear briefings on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence operations, from the current “Gang of Eight” to about 40.
The proposal to strip the president’s authority to severely limit congressional access to the top-secret briefings is a response to years of White House secrecy.
The plan before the House Intelligence Committee would open the briefings to all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, a total of about 40 lawmakers, depending on shifting membership rosters.
The committee was considering the provision Thursday as it begins work on the FY-2010 intelligence bill.
The move is an effort to wrest back oversight power ceded to former President George W. Bush during eight contentious years that saw U.S. intelligence agencies gain the use of wider surveillance authority and harsh interrogation tactics that many critics now call torture.