Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community

| July 2009

Background Memos on the Intelligence Community

Should the CIA have briefed Congress on secret intelligence programs? What is the legal basis for the President's electronic surveillance program? Is the DNI actually in charge of the Intelligence Community?

Debate about intelligence issues has dominated public discourse since the attacks on 9/11. Unfortunately, the size, complexity and closed nature of the U.S. Intelligence Community often stymie individuals from differentiating fact and fiction on intelligence issues. The vast majority of members of Congress face an even more daunting task: They must provide important oversight with only a very limited background on intelligence. As the 9/11 Commission noted, "Few members of Congress have the broad knowledge of intelligence activities or the know-how about technologies employed."

The former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Bob Graham, believed that members of Congress needed a non-partisan, objective reference that would provide a foundation for improving basic knowledge of intelligence issues currently facing this country. Hence, Eric Rosenbach and Aki J. Peritz, drafted Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community at the Harvard Kennedy School in order to meet that need.

The revised version of Confrontation or Collaboration provides the public with a similar reference. Each chapter is a succinct memo that highlights important information about the Intelligence Community or an issue critical to our national security. The book begins by presenting basic organizational and legal issues pertinent to the Intelligence Community. Next, it traces the history of controversial topics like electronic surveillance and interrogations. Finally, it closes by highlighting new and current challenges that will undoubtedly dominate policymakers' agendas in the next several years.

The goal of Confrontation or Collaboration is to provide a guide to the complexities of the Intelligence Community to policymakers, legislators, students and the public. We hope this book leads to more informed debates and decisions about critical national security issues facing our nation.



Click any of the links below to read and download the individual memos online. You can download the complete report containing all the memos at the bottom of this page.

Background Memos

Issue Memos


Download the report:

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Rosenbach, Eric and Aki J. Peritz. “Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community.” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, July 2009.

The Authors

Eric Rosenbach