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Restoring Congress’s Proper Role in Oversight of Covert Intelligence Operations

By James E. Gauch
May 22, 2002

One former director of central intelligence has called the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon "the largest intelligence and law enforcement failure in U.S. history." Because the Central Intelligence Agency was born out of another deadly intelligence failure, the Pearl Harbor attack, it is a particularly fitting time to reconsider how best to equip the CIA to help fight the war on terrorism. History will judge what more, if anything, the intelligence community might have done to prevent al Qaeda’s heinous attacks. This paper instead examines one facet of the CIA’s role going forward: the structural restraints on covert operations abroad.