background image
extend the system to public agencies and relevant private-sector data-
bases, a government-wide initiative can succeed.
White House leadership is also needed because the policy and legal
issues are harder than the technical ones. The necessary technology
already exists. What does not are the rules for acquiring, accessing,
sharing, and using the vast stores of public and private data that may
be available. When information sharing works, it is a powerful tool.
Therefore the sharing and uses of information must be guided by a
set of practical policy guidelines that simultaneously empower and
constrain officials, telling them clearly what is and is not permitted.
"This is government acting in new ways, to face new threats," the most
recent Markle report explains."And while such change is necessary, it must be
accomplished while engendering the people's trust that privacy and other civil
liberties are being protected, that businesses are not being unduly burdened
with requests for extraneous or useless information, that taxpayer money is
being well spent, and that, ultimately, the network will be effective in protect-
ing our security."The authors add: "Leadership is emerging from all levels of
government and from many places in the private sector.What is needed now
is a plan to accelerate these efforts, and public debate and consensus on the
goals."
18
13.4 UNITY OF EFFORT IN THE CONGRESS
Strengthen Congressional Oversight of Intelligence and Homeland
Security
Of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be
among the most difficult and important. So long as oversight is governed by
current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people
will not get the security they want and need.The United States needs a strong,
stable, and capable congressional committee structure to give America's
national intelligence agencies oversight, support, and leadership.
Few things are more difficult to change in Washington than congressional
committee jurisdiction and prerogatives. To a member, these assignments are
almost as important as the map of his or her congressional district.The Amer-
ican people may have to insist that these changes occur, or they may well not
happen. Having interviewed numerous members of Congress from both par-
ties, as well as congressional staff members, we found that dissatisfaction with
congressional oversight remains widespread.
The future challenges of America's intelligence agencies are daunting.They
include the need to develop leading-edge technologies that give our policy-
HOW TO DO IT?
419
FinalCh12_13.4pp 7/17/04 4:14 PM Page 419