May 28, 2015

Lessons from the Church Committee

Church Committee

The Brennan Center for Justice and NYU Washington, DC co-hosted a for a day-long symposium dedicated to examining these critical and timely issues, where experts, advocates, and former Church Committee members and staff who discussed existing oversight mechanisms and explore possible paths for reform.

Forty years ago, disclosures of illicit government surveillance of American citizens led the U.S. Senate to establish the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, known as the Church Committee after its chairman, Sen. Frank Church. These efforts culminated in the release of 14 reports in 1975 and 1976 detailing government secrecy and abuse, and making recommendations for the creation of new oversight mechanisms.

Recent disclosures of intelligence activities, including torture and NSA surveillance, challenge whether these mechanisms are still working. This is a critical time to evaluate whether current forms of executive, judicial, and congressional oversight are effective in efficiently allocating intelligence resources; checking agency abuses; and adequately informing all members of Congress and the American public about the scope, necessity, and effectiveness of intelligence activities, to the greatest extent possible.

Brennen Center

Featuring a keynote discussion with: 

With panel discussions on contemporary intelligence oversight issues that followed.