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Watchdogs on the HillThe Decline of Congressional Oversight of U.S. Foreign Relations$
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Linda L. Fowler

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151618

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151618.001.0001

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Oversight Hearings and U.S. Foreign Policy

(p.3) Introduction
Watchdogs on the Hill

Linda L. Fowler

Princeton University Press

This book examines the formal hearing activity of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees from 1947 to 2008 to assess their efficacy in promoting due process and public understanding with respect to international affairs. In particular, it analyzes how much time the committees spent on public and secret hearings, what factors influenced their decisions to engage in oversight of national security, and how they allocated their efforts to routine program review compared to scrutiny of crises and scandals. The empirical results and case studies suggest that the Senate's national security committees had an uneven record over the sixty-two years of the study. The book uses these findings as a basis for rethinking the nature of national security oversight and proposing several reforms to promote public deliberation and education about U.S. foreign relations.

Keywords:   secret hearings, Senate, Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, public hearings, U.S. foreign relations, national security oversight, international affairs, public understanding

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