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Pelosi To Tighten Intelligence Oversight

Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi speaks to the press 08 November 2006 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
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Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she will create a new congressional panel to examine the administration's intelligence budget and to make sure the money is being spent properly.

Creating the panel, Pelosi said at a news conference, "makes oversight stronger and makes the American people safer."

Democrats have been highly critical of the conduct of intelligence agencies in the days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Pelosi, D-Calif., also said that one of the first tasks of the Democratic-controlled House she will lead beginning in January will be approving the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, including taking steps to make intelligence decisions more transparent.

The Select Intelligence Oversight Panel proposed by Pelosi would be made up by members of the Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence, and would work within the Appropriations Committee.

It would examine, through hearings, the president's intelligence budget, prepare the classified annex to the annual defense spending bill and conduct oversight of the use of appropriated funds by intelligence agencies.

Pelosi said the new panel would help remove barriers between the intelligence committee, which makes policy and tracks intelligence activities, and the Appropriations Committee, which determines annual spending levels.

She said she has supported making the intelligence budget public, but acknowledged that many in Congress continue to support the policy of classifying spending numbers. At the least, she said, there should be efforts to make classified material available to more members of Congress. "There are many things that all members of Congress should have access to."

Pelosi, to be the first woman Speaker when the 110th Congress convenes, outlined six objectives she hopes to accomplish in the first 100 legislative hours of the new Congress. Those include enacting ethics and lobbying reform, implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, raising the federal minimum wage, cutting interest rates on student loans, making health care more affordable and cutting subsidies to the oil industry.