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Beyond the “Gang of Eight”

Greg Sargent reports that House Democrats are considering legislation “that would strip the President of his authority to limit such briefings to the so-called ‘Gang of Eight’ — the leaders of the House and Senate from both parties, and the leaders of the Congressional Intelligence committees — and allow a larger group of members of Congress to attend.”

Part of the backdrop for this, clearly, is the controversy over what briefings Nancy Pelosi may or may not have received. I suspect that the Barack Obama, who like many Presidents discovered a lot about the virtues of executive power after moving in to the White House, will be able to kill this initiative. But I would say that arguably it doesn’t go far enough. I think it’s clear that a major country in the modern age needs some ability to operate in secret. But the idea of keeping secrets from members of congress seems straightforwardly incompatible with the basic ideas of democracy. If I had my way, I think you’d have to let the whole lot of ’em in on the secrets. After all, they’re the ones who decide which things are legal and which aren’t; they decide what gets funded and what doesn’t. It seems like they ought to know what’s actually happening.

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