This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
Rep. Mike Thompson helped introduce a bipartisan bill today that he and his co-authors say would strengthen congressional oversight and improve accountability from the nation's intelligence community, which has been accused of overstepping its bounds in surveillance of U.S. citizens.
The Intelligence Oversight and Accountability Act of 2013, H.R. 3103, requires that any Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) decision, order or opinion that includes a denial or modification of an intelligence community request, or that results in a change to any legal interpretation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, be shared with Congress.
"Our government has a responsibility to both protect American lives and our citizens' civil liberties," Thompson, D-Napa, said in a news release. "This bill helps us meet that responsibility by strengthening Congress' aggressive oversight of our Intelligence Community. Through the oversight and accountability provided by this bill, we can help make sure our Intelligence Community operates within legal and constitutional boundaries while they continue their brave work to keep Americans safe."
The bill's other co-authors are Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.; Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; and J. Randy Forbes, R-Va.
Under current law, when the FISC or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review issues a decision, order or opinion, the attorney general must determine if the issue considered by the FISC includes a "significant construction or interpretation of the law." If the attorney general determines that the decision is significant, that information must be shared with Congress. But if the attorney general determines that the decision is not "significant," the information doesn't have to be shared with Congress.
The bill also requires the Justice Department to include enhanced summaries of the FISC's decisions, orders and opinions to make the facts, issues and legal reasoning involved in these matters more accessible to Congress.
H.R. 3103 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, on which Gutierrez and Forbes are senior members, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, on which Thompson, LoBiondo and Gutierrez are senior members.
A new Tea Party California Caucus will make its debut at the California Republican Party's fall convention in Anaheim early next month.
A news release issued Thursday morning says the caucus will host "a solution-oriented seminar filled with a diverse group of policy experts and high profile Tea Party leaders and organizers" to "educate convention attendees about Tea Party principles and advance these principles by proposing policy and position resolutions to the CRP."
The caucus was announced late last month.
Tea party groups have been very active at the grass-roots level for the past four years, and many members already have been elected to county central committees.
"This involvement is bringing a return to constitutional principles and energizing the Republican grass roots at the county level across the state," the release said. "We are now gathering together to bring that energy to the statewide level and restore our principles of constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets to CRP as we work together to restore and ensure a future of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Californians."