Rep. Alan Grayson: I Learn Much More About The NSA From The Press Than From Intelligence Briefings

from the and-that's-important dept

Rep. Alan Grayson has been among the most outspoken members of Congress about the NSA's surveillance efforts, and his latest is an op-ed in the Guardian, in which he notes that Congressional "oversight" is really Congressional "overlook," and that he learns much more about the NSA from the press than from the House intelligence briefings:
Despite being a member of Congress possessing security clearance, I've learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from reading media reports than I have from "intelligence" briefings. If the vote on the Amash-Conyers amendment is any indication, my colleagues feel the same way. In fact, one long-serving conservative Republican told me that he doesn't attend such briefings anymore, because, "they always lie".

Many of us worry that Congressional Intelligence Committees are more loyal to the "intelligence community" that they are tasked with policing, than to the Constitution. And the House Intelligence Committee isn't doing anything to assuage our concerns.
We've covered in detail how House Intelligence chair Mike Rogers had blocked other Reps. from learning information about the spying program, refusing to answer questions or provide more access to certain Congressional Reps, as well as generally making sure that curious Reps can't find out the answers to their questions. Grayson goes into more detail:
I've requested classified information, and further meetings with NSA officials. The House Intelligence Committee has refused to provide either. Supporters of the NSA's vast ubiquitous domestic spying operation assure the public that members of Congress can be briefed on these activities whenever they want. Senator Saxby Chambliss says all a member of Congress needs to do is ask for information, and he'll get it. Well I did ask, and the House Intelligence Committee said "no", repeatedly. And virtually every other member not on the Intelligence Committee gets the same treatment.

Recently, a member of the House Intelligence Committee was asked at a town hall meeting, by his constituents, why my requests for more information about these programs were being denied. This member argued that I don't have the necessary level of clearance to obtain access for classified information. That doesn't make any sense; every member is given the same level of clearance. There is no legal justification for imparting secret knowledge about the NSA's domestic surveillance activities only to the 20 members of the House Intelligence Committee. Moreover, how can the remaining 415 of us do our job properly, when we're kept in the dark – or worse, misinformed?
This is even more important than just a few concerned Congressional Reps. Just recently, we wrote about the FISA Court's defense of its latest renewal on the bulk metadata collection of phone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. A very key piece of that decision had to do with the FISA Court's belief that Congress was well-informed about the programs when it voted to renew Section 215 -- thus, arguing that Congress approves of such things. Grayson's comments (along with those of many other House Representatives -- not to mention the 207 Reps who voted for the Amash Amendment against such bulk collection) suggest that the FISA Court is simply wrong on this, but doesn't seem to care enough to find out the truth.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 1:44pm

    So...

    When are you going to stop running your mouth like a mini ME Obama where you state that you didn't know anything and still do nothing about it?

    Dear Congress,

    We the American People will take YOU seriously when you start doing your jobs and upholding your oaths of offices to protect and follow the Constitution.

    Sincerely,

    American Citizens
    not Illegal ones

     

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    Glen, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 1:44pm

    Thank God for those in the press that do their jobs!!

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 28th, 2013 @ 1:47pm

    Makes sense

    Some of them have regular security clearance.

    Others have super-duper special security clearance.

    Obviously you can't expect the first group to be invited to the club meetings, learn the special handshake, or be told classified information that's relevant to their job of providing oversight over national spying agencies, as if you did that, those with super-duper special security clearance would be losing the biggest perks that come with being in the super-duper special club.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    Even members of Congress are calling the NSA spies a bunch of lairs. Not surprising, both Alexander and Clapper have lied to Congress on multiple occasions.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    Don't just stand there...

    Let's see a motion brought to censure MRep. Rogers over this.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    All theater, no action.

    Version of "all talk, no cattle".

    "If the vote on the Amash-Conyers amendment is any indication, my colleagues feel the same way." -- IT'S NOT; THEY DON'T. That was sheer theater, never an actual chance or wouldn't haven't been voted on, just to give the illusion he's trying to present here, that there's just nearly enough to effect some change. -- The actors playing "good guys" always claim they're just a couple votes from reversing the police state, YET it keeps growing. Ain't it amazing how narrow margins always end up the wrong way?

    Google defenders are much like NSA defenders: basically blind to privacy, just insist over objections to being spied on: "we're only helping and you should be grateful!".

    09:54:34[k-917-7]

     

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      Anonymous, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 6:02pm

      Re: All theater, no action.

      I thought it was, "all hat, no cattle". But, after all, you are OOTB.

       

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      Ninja (profile), Oct 29th, 2013 @ 2:42am

      Re: All theater, no action.

      Why don't you provide us peasants with the holy grail that will solve all problems? You've been parroting like crazy that they should be tried and put in jail but how if the current powers aren't willing to do it? Armed revolt? Civil war? And even if those are the solutions then how do you suppose we should gather popular support if not by rising awareness to reach a critical mass?

      I'll play your card. Provide the panacea to the situation or get lost.

       

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    jameshogg (profile), Oct 28th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    I am beginning to wonder if the heads of the NSA now repeatedly go about their day yelling in their offices "...why... WHY didn't I DRM-lock that document?!"

    Because that IS the only way to prevent your data from being copied without permission, you know! It's not like you need a massive copying LAW or anything...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    This is new...

    "And why do Generals Alexander and Clapper remain in office, when all the evidence points to them committing the felony of lying to Congress and the American people?"

    Ok this is the first time I've seen a member of Congress say that what Alexander and Clapper have done was committing a crime.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 2:51pm

    Why aren't there more Congressmen making a big deal about this (or preferrably) writing legislation to fix it?

    Congress is a majority rules situation until you hand one person (Boehner, Rodgers, etc) the ability to censor you're voice/vote. Stand up, make some noise and get the Americans informed enough to do something about it!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    The point of all this oversight by congressional committee has been an engineered three ring circus the equivalent to "Whose on First".

    It it's terrorism related, it's the security agencies on first.If oversight is questioned congress members on second base are responsible. If a court case is coming up, it's National Security on third. No one finds the one that holds up his hand and says "I'm the one you need to talk to". It's find hide the responsible party.

    Point of it is, everyone knows it's broken it's mandate. The cover up and lies aren't working anymore.

     

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    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Oct 28th, 2013 @ 3:14pm

    What's good for the Goose.....

    that's okay, we learn far more about CONGRESS from the press than we do from our elected officials!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2013 @ 3:26pm

    Traitors? I think not

    I've learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from whistleblowers like Snowden than I have from "intelligence" briefings.

    FTFY Alan Grayson

     

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    Rocco Maglio (profile), Oct 28th, 2013 @ 6:03pm

    I have to give Grayson credit

    I have to give Grayson credit. How can congress have oversight if they cannot get information on the program? He does and says many boneheaded things, but this time he is right.

     

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