Gang of Eight

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The Gang of Eight (Go8) is the civilian oversight board of elected officials who are supposed to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. The Gang of Eight consists of: 1. The Speaker of the House, 2. The Minority Leader of the House, 3. the Majority Leader of the Senate, 4. the Minority Leader of the Senate, 5. the Chairperson of the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence, 6. the minority leader from the same committee; 7. The Chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee and 8. the minority leader of the same committee. It is intended as the modern extension of the advise and consent clause of the U.S. Constitution that applies to covert activities.

With the 2016 FBI Crossfire Hurricane investigation, and the 2022 Mar-a-Lago raid, the Go8 system has been abandoned, allowing for the weaponization of the intelligence community for political targeting and criminalization of political opposition.

The Go8 oversight process was largely the result of the Church Committee in the post-Watergate reform era. It was put in place after the 47-year career of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover who routinely spied on and blackmailed Washington politicians. Hoover was largely considered untouchable even by the seven presidents he served under.

After the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission report, Executive branch procedures in the 21st century for briefing congressional leaders were somewhat modified. However, the Obama administration dispensed with the constitutional; requirement for legislative oversight and converted the electronic surveillance capabilities used against terrorist organizations, foreign intelligence agencies, and drug cartels, into a domestic spying apparatus on American citizens, political opponents, conservative figures and organizations, and Republicans up to the level of presidential nominee.[1]

The Go8 formerly were briefed on every covert operation that our various intelligence agencies carry out. They were directly responsible for oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

The Go8 were responsible for overseeing all executive office policy as it relates to intelligence gathering and corresponding activity. Everything the White House, CIA, NSA, and U.S State Department does formerly was approved by these eight members who are accountable to the U.S. electorate. These eight representatives were the intelligence oversight “check” within the constitutionally established check and balance inside our federal government. In short these eight elected representatives in charge of all oversight of all U.S. intelligence operations, open and covert.[2]

Crossfire Hurricane

The FBI did not deliver full briefings to all Go8 members when Operation Crossfire Hurricane began; briefings were held days apart and not simultaneously. Some members received different briefings from others. Some briefings were given to staffers and not the sitting member holding office. No full briefings on the FBI's activities were ever given to all members.

As a result of 2018 Midterm elections, the Gang of Eight for the 116th Congress consisted of Nancy Pelosi (D) – Speaker of House, Adam Schiff (D) – Chair, HPSCI, Senator Mitch McConnell (R) – Senate Majority Leader, Senator Richard Burr (R) – Chair, SSCI, Kevin McCarthy (R) – Minority Leader House, Senator Chuck Schumer (D) – Senate Minority Leader, Devin Nunes (R) – Ranking Member HPSCI and Senator Mark Warner (D) – Vice Chair, SSCI.

At the start of the 116th Congress. Democrat Sen. Mark Warner told Jake Tapper of CNN that he received Gang of Eight briefings on the Trump-Russia collusion hoax in the Summer of 2016.[3] Warner did not become a member of the Gang of Eight until January 2017.

CIA director John Brennan held separate briefings to members of the Go8, delivering different or incomplete briefings to various members.

See also