Squaring the circle : security, accountability and Congress




Lovett, Bradford Wade

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This analysis considers the security-accountability paradox: in a democracy, how can the People consent to what they cannot see? Congress is the branch of government most concerned with democratic representation and is directed by Article I to give a public accounting of expenditures from time to time. However, when it comes to national security and the intelligence community (IC), Congress has abdicated this responsibility and fails to use tools such as hearings to exercise meaningful oversight. This analysis lays out qualitative standards for adjudicating between responsible legislative delegation and irresponsible legislative abdication. It finds that in routinizing unvouchered funds through the CIA Act of 1949, Congress systematized abdication of budgetary control over the IC. Using data from the Comparative Agendas Project, this study finds that, since the CIA Act, Congress has failed to adequately compensate for its initial abdication through meaningful use of congressional IC hearings. Rather, Congress continues routinized abdication at the expense of accountability to the public.



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