WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The new Republican chairman of the U.S. House intelligence panel said Thursday Congress will take a more assertive role in intelligence oversight.
Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan said, "Our job here in Congress is to make sure that our intelligence agencies have the tools and authorities they need for their important mission and that we never stop working to improve the intelligence community's effectiveness."
"That begins with reasserting the (House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) as the force for serious bipartisan oversight it was intended to be when it was established in 1977. ... I intend to restore the critical function of the committee, passing a meaningful annual intelligence authorization bill," he added.
Rogers spoke at a panel hearing billed as a look at worldwide threats.
Rogers also said Congress must "reinforce legal authorities concerning detainees, one of our best intelligence sources in the war on terrorism. We need to examine a system for intelligence collection and long-term detention that is flexible and can into endure changing circumstances and court challenges, no matter where a detainee is picked up ... Executive orders and other mandates are not good enough. This problem requires legislative action."
He said the recidivism rate amongst released Guantanamo "detainees has reached an alarming rate, 25 percent, and that's just the ones that we know of. We need to take a hard look at the detainee transfer and release process."
Rogers said, "Al Qaida has increased the use of Westerners and Americans to penetrate our defenses. As we saw with the Fort Hood (Texas massacre) tragedy, the threat is further complicated by acts of violence by home-grown and self-radicalized American militants."