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Posted at 8:00 PM ET, 09/28/2010

Pelosi: No ‘retreat’ on GAO and spy agencies

By Jeff Stein

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today praised the intelligence authorization bill passed by the Senate last night for providing “a framework for” congressional investigators to look at the spy agencies’ books.

The White House had threatened to veto any bill that gave Government Accountability Office investigators any access to the inner workings of the CIA and other spy agencies, as proposed in an amendment sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and others last May.

The new language provides only for the director of national intelligence to issue a directive on access in consultation with the GAO.

But Pelosi lauded the measure as a step forward.

"In passing the Intelligence Authorization Act last night, the Senate upheld our first responsibility – to ensure the security of the American people – while addressing two key objectives," Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday.

“It expands and improves the congressional notification process for covert action and provides the framework for GAO access to intelligence community information so that the GAO can conduct investigations, audits, and evaluations as requested by Congress,” Pelosi said.

A Democratic leadership aide rejected the notion that Pelosi’s acceptance of a “framework” for providing the GAO access to CIA and other spy agency operations, rather than actual access, was a “retreat” from her earlier position on the issue.

Instead, it was “a legislative compromise where both sides gave some to come to an agreement,” the aide said.

The White House did not answer several requests for comment.

The House is planning to vote on the measure Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the Pentagon "has issued a directive governing GAO access to Defense special access programs.”

“This directive is regarded as having resolved successfully the issues that the Department and GAO had previously encountered,” Feinstein added.

A spokesman for the Defense Department could not be immediately reached for comment.

By Jeff Stein  | September 28, 2010; 8:00 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Intelligence, Lawandcourts, Politics  
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