58. Letter From President Carter to the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Inouye)1

To Chairman Inouye

The Chairman of the Intelligence Oversight Board has reported to me on the very useful meetings which the Board had with you, Senator Goldwater, and the members of your staff following my meeting with the Board on June 8.2

I want you to know that I consider abuses in the activities of any of our intelligence agencies to be of such import that I intend to deal with such matters personally. To assist me, I will rely on the Board, which as you know reports directly to me any matter which it believes raises a serious question of legality or propriety. When reports of abuses are made to me, I will have them investigated, and when corrective action is warranted, will report to your Committee the nature of the abuse and corrective action taken.

This decision was made after careful consideration of the dialogue between Admiral Turner, Mr. Knoche, and the Senate Select Committee concerning the same subject. I share with you a deep commitment toward institutionalizing effective oversight of foreign intelligence activities. I also recognize the need to keep the Committee as informed as possible. However, for the Executive branch mechanism to operate effectively, the information it receives must obviously be treated on a privileged basis.

I believe that the steps I have outlined will serve to eliminate most quickly and effectively any abuses which may in the future occur in any of our intelligence agencies and simultaneously serve to give the Senate in a timely fashion full and accurate information on what has occurred.


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 11, PD 17 [2]. Unclassified.
  2. No minutes of these meetings were found. Carter met with the members of the Intelligence Oversight Board, Lipshutz, and Brzezinski on June 8 from 1:30 to 2 p.m. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary)