By BRYAN RAHIJA
Who needs college basketball when you could be debating government accountability? All eyes at POGO HQ this afternoon were fixed not on bracket-busting underdogs, but on a Sunshine Week panel moderated by POGO head honcho Danielle Brian on the balance between protecting national security and maintaining an open and accountable government.
The all-star panel touched on over-classification of government records, congressional oversight, whistleblower protections, the proliferation of security clearances, and contractors' increasing role in core government activities.
Jeffrey H. Smith, former general counsel of the CIA, said that the best solution for the current lack of congressional oversight is simply that Congress needs to use more of the powers it already has.
Dana Priest, the Washington Post reporter behind the "Top Secret America" series and the book of the same name, pointed out that part of the reason for the massive expansion of the contracting community surrounding intelligence agencies was that Congress gave the agencies billions of dollars to ramp up their activities—but with an understanding that agencies wouldn't make the government any bigger.