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CIA's relationship with the United States Congress

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There have been various arrangements to handle the Central Intelligence Agency's relationship with the United States Congress.


The formal liaison began some time before the 1960s, with a single position named the 'legislative liaison'. This later became the 'legislative counsel'. In the 1960s, an actual office was created for this purpose - the Office of Legislative Counsel.

In the 1970s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ramped up its congressional-liaison staff to deal with the large number of investigations coming from the Congress. It was the era of the Rockefeller Commission, the Church Committee, and the Pike Committee, all of which requested large amounts of information from the agency.

In the 1980s, there were several reorganizations and renaming of the office. Near the end of the 1980s, the office was renamed the Office of Congressional Affairs and has kept that name, as of 2009.

In the early 2000s (decade), the relationship became more intense, with debates about the Global war on terror and controversies surrounding it. For example, the CIA planned a secret program in 2001 but did not inform congress until much later.


This time line is based on information found in Snider, The Agency and the Hill, Chapter 4 (available online, see below under 'sources'). It lists the liaison, or the head of the liaison office, along with brief mentions of some significant events, reorganizations, and name changes.

  • 1946 - one liaison person, part of the Office of General Counsel (OGC)
  • 1946-1955 Walter Pforzheimer
  • 1956-1957 Norman Paul
  • 1957-1966 John Warner
  • 1966 - new office created - Office of Legislative Counsel (OLC)
  • 1966-1968 John Warner
  • 1968-1974 John Maury
  • 1974-1977 George Cary
  • 1970s - 'ad hoc Review Staff' operated alongside OLC, to respond to large number of congressional inquiries due to the Rockefeller Commission, the Church Committee, and the Pike Committee
  • 1978 - OLC grows to 28 people
  • 1978-1981 Fred Hitz
  • 1981 - OLC and Office of Public Affairs combined into the Office of External Affairs, with a 'Legislative Liaison Division'
  • 1981-1982 J William "Billy" Doswell
  • 1982 - Office of External Affairs ended. Office of Legislative Liaison created.
  • 1982-1984 Clair E George
  • 1984-1986 Charles Briggs
  • 1986-1988 David D. Gries
  • 1980s - the Iran–Contra affair pits the Democratic party House of Representatives against the Reagan Doctrine as practiced in Central America by the CIA. It would lead to a number of prosecutions and the cutting of congressional funding to CIA's Contra program.
  • 198? - Office of Legislative Liaison is renamed to Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA)
  • 1988-1989 John Helgerson
  • 1989-1991 E. Norbert Garrett
  • 1991-1994 Stan Moskowitz
  • 1994-1996 Joanne Isham
  • 1996-2001 John H. Moseman
  • 2001-2004 Stan Moskowitz
  • 1980s and Charlie Wilson

    During much of the 1980s a unique and unusual relationship evolved between Congress and the CIA in the person of Texas congressman Charlie Wilson from Texas's 2nd congressional district. Using his position on various House appropriations committees, and in partnership with CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, Wilson was able to increase CIA's funding the Afghan Mujahideen to several hundred million dollars a year during the Soviet Afghan war. Author George Crile would describe Wilson as eventually becoming the "Agency's station chief on the Hill". He eventually got a position on the Intelligence Committee and was supposed to be overseeing the CIA.


    CIA's relationship with the United States Congress Wikipedia