WASHINGTON – The Senate has scrapped its bid to obtain the archive of daily intelligence briefings given to the president on Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.
That request was among several controversial provisions dropped from an intelligence bill, leading to the measure's unanimous Senate passage Wednesday.
The provision sought to give the Senate and House intelligence committees access to all presidential daily briefs between 1997 and 2003 that referred to Iraq — an attempt to determine whether the White House mischaracterized intelligence prior to the war. Senate Republicans objected, saying the documents had already been reviewed by an independent commission, according to a congressional official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
The final version of the bill also dropped a requirement that the director of national intelligence conduct an assessment of the effects of global climate change on national security.
The overall legislation would give Congress' approval for the whole range of intelligence programs over the coming year, including spy satellites and eavesdropping, human spying and battlefield collection, along with recommended spending levels. Most of the bill is secret.
The House approved its own version of the bill in May, and the two chambers now must work out differences between the two versions.
The Senate bill also gives new power to the inspector general in the office of the director of national intelligence to conduct investigations into Pentagon programs, which consume about 80 percent of the nation's intelligence budget.
The bill also requires the director of national intelligence to alert Congress when the cost of any major intelligence acquisition program grows by 20 percent or more. If it increases by as much as 40 percent, the president has to certify the program is necessary to national security and that there are no viable alternatives. Similar requirements already apply to major defense acquisition programs.
A top intelligence official disclosed in 2005 that the annual budget was around $44 billion. Experts estimate the budget is usually about 10 percent of total defense spending.