Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sensitive Covert Actions: Additional Gang of Eight Requirements

In addition to having to determine that vital interests are implicated, the President must comply
with four additional statutory conditions in notifying the Gang of Eight. First, the President is
required to provide a statement setting out the reasons for limiting notification to the Gang of
Eight, rather than the full intelligence committees.11 The two intelligence committee chairmen,
both Gang of Eight Members, also must be provided signed copies of the covert action finding in
question.12 Third, the President is required to provide the Gang of Eight advance notice of the
covert action in question.13 And, lastly, Gang of Eight Members must be notified of any
significant changes in a previously approved covert action, or any significant undertaking
pursuant to a previously approved finding.14

Endnotes

11 National Security Act of 1947 as amended, Sec. 503 [50 U.S.C. 413b] (c) (4). The statute does not explicitly specify
whether such a statement should be in writing, nor specifically to whom such a statement should be provided.

12 Ibid.

13 National Security Act of 1947 as amended, Sec. 503 [50 U.S.C. 413b] (c) (2). The President must comply with these
last two requirements—providing signed copies of the covert action and providing advance notification—when
notifying the full committees of covert action operations that are determined to be less sensitive than “Gang of Eight”
covert actions. Sec. 503 [50 U.S.C. 413b] (a) (1) requires a written finding unless immediate action by the U.S. is
required and time does not permit preparation of a written finding. In the latter situation, a contemporaneous written
record must be immediately reduced to a written finding as soon as possible within 48 hours.

14 Ibid, (d).

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