The Pike Committee is the common name for the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the period when it was chaired by Democratic Representative Otis G. Pike of New York. The Select Committee had originally been established in February 1975 under the chairmanship of Congressman Lucien Nedzi of Michigan. Following Nedzi's resignation in June, the committee was reconstituted with Pike as chair, in July 1975, with its mandate expiring January 31, 1976. Under Pike's chairmanship, the committee investigated illegal activities by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA).
The Pike Committee's demands for information were resisted and stalled by US President Gerald Ford's Administration. The eventual report produced by the Pike Committee described the Administration's sandbagging this way: "when legal proceedings were not in the offing, the access experience was frequently one of foot-dragging, stone-walling, and careful deception."
In fact, the Administration's reluctance to release documents requested by the Committee almost ignited a constitutional crisis in 1975. Newly declassified documents from the National Security Archive demonstrate the highly contentious nature of this conflict, showing the CIA's refusal to comply with the Pike Committee's requests for information. Ultimately, when the Pike Committee was preparing to sue for the documents' release, the CIA determined the likelihood of winning the lawsuit was remote, and Ford was able to orchestrate a compromise. The Agency would release the requested documents "on loan" to the Committee, and if there were disagreements about a specific document, the President would have the final say. The Pike Committee was then able to proceed with their investigation, and generated a report.
The Pike Committee established important protocols for the declassification of intelligence documents, which would continue to evolve. It also created a precedent for the oversight of the Executive Branch and its agencies, leading to the creation of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which now has the autonomy to declassify any of the information it receives. The Pike Committee constituted an extremely significant step in the tradition of government transparency.
The final report of the Pike Committee was never officially published, due to Congressional opposition. However, unauthorized versions of the (draft) final report were leaked to the press. CBS News reporter Daniel Schorr was called to testify before Congress, but refused to divulge his source. Major portions of the report were published by The Village Voice, and a full copy of the draft was published in the United Kingdom.
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