In the final moments of a panel on intelligence reform this morning, Michael Hayden, who served as director of the CIA for a short of time at the beginning of President Obama's first term, disclosed that he asked the White House -- the Obama White House -- about whether to brief Congress about a certain very sensitive intelligence matter. And it was the decided preference of the Obama White House that the matter not be briefed to the intel committees.
The Obama administration has carved out a position on national security information that aligns it, policy-wise, with its predecessors. Obama wants to control what constitutes national security information and argues that only the executive branch can decide how to protect that information -- including who gets briefed. That's one reason the administration opposed Democratic efforts to expand the number of members of Congress who receive briefings on certain types of intelligence. Administration officials have said that their posture differs from that of the Bush administration because Obama intends to abide by court rulings regarding the status of this information balance, and because it is the administration's preference to improve and strengthen congressional oversight, rather than to undermine it.
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