Rep. Mike Rogers Blocking Other Congressional Reps From Access To Info On NSA Surveillance

from the look-at-that dept

When the Ed Snowden leaks first hit the Guardian and the Washington Post, many officials claimed that there was full oversight from Congress of these programs and that everyone was aware of them. In fact, President Obama himself declared:

“When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program,” Obama said to reporters last Friday.

And other defenders insisted, at the very least, that anyone could get a full briefing — if they just asked for it:

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, chimed in later: “We provided detailed briefings and papers on this to explain the law, to explain the process it was governing,” he said on NBC News last Saturday.

And then Monday on Fox News, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who’s on the House Intelligence Committee, told his colleagues to stop whining: “You know, these members of Congress who said they didn’t know about it — they could have gotten a briefing whenever they wanted to.”

Oh really? Even back then, many in Congress said that was hogwash, and that it was incredibly difficult to get the details of these programs out of those who knew about them. While there were these “briefings” that Clapper and King mention above, they’re anything but clear. As some noted, the “briefings” don’t really brief you on anything — unless you already know exactly what questions to ask:

“Sometimes these briefings are a game of 20 questions. If you don’t ask exactly the right question, you don’t get the answer,” said Harman.

Either way, Glenn Greenwald’s latest shows that the claims that any member of Congress can simply find out what’s going on is flat out false — so we can add that to the list of “lies” from those defending the NSA surveillance programs. Greenwald highlights how two Congressional Representatives — Morgan Griffith and Alan Grayson — shared with him their attempts to get access to certain details about the NSA surveillance program. Griffith sent over a bunch of requests to the House Intelligence Committee… and got back nothing, even as he asked that his request be expedited so he could vote knowledgeably on the Amash amendment. Instead… silence.

Even worse, however, is the completely obnoxious response that Grayson received from (you guessed it!) Rep. Mike Rogers, saying that his request had been denied:

On June 19, Grayson wrote to the House Intelligence Committee requesting several documents relating to media accounts about the NSA. Included among them were FISA court opinions directing the collection of telephone records for Americans, as well as documents relating to the PRISM program.

But just over four weeks later, the Chairman of the Committee, GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, wrote to Grayson informing him that his requests had been denied by a Committee “voice vote”.

Oh, and it gets worse. Grayson spoke to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (basically the number two guy on the Intelligence Committee after Rogers) and was told that “he was unaware of any committee action on this matter.” A staff member for Grayson asked the Intelligence Committee for the details of the voice vote, including the member-by-member voting. The response?

Thanks for your inquiry. The full Committee attends Business Meetings. At our July 18, 2013 Business Meeting, there were seven Democrat Members and nine Republican Members in attendance. The transcript is classified.”

Say what? Here is a Congressional Representative — who we are told over and over again can have full access to this information — being told by the NSA’s staunchest defenders, Rep. Mike Rogers, that his request is denied “by a voice vote” and then told that the details of that vote are now classified? At some point, you have to recognize that Rogers and the House Intelligence Committee are out of control. I realize they’re trying to do damage control, but denying such direct requests from a Congressional Representative is really quite stunning.

And that’s not all. Looking through the email exchange, it notes that Grayson had spoken to NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis to find out more about the program, and was requesting a follow up meeting. There are then a whole series of follow up emails with Grayson’s office repeatedly trying to schedule a meeting. Finally, they are told that someone from the House Intelligence Committee would be calling to “close the loop,” and there’s a note that “closing the loop” meant merely calling to tell Grayson that he could not have a follow up meeting with the NSA.

It’s no secret that Grayson has been one of the vocal critics of the surveillance program, but now the House Intelligence Committee, led by Mike Rogers, is looking to actively block him from doing his job, denying him access to the very documents, individuals and briefings that all the defenders of the program have said repeatedly are open to all Congressional reps. It really makes you wonder: what are they so afraid of?



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Comments on “Rep. Mike Rogers Blocking Other Congressional Reps From Access To Info On NSA Surveillance”

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42 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

what are they so afraid of?

Their sand castle where they can feed their megalomaniac mental disturbs is under fire. Of course they’ll lash out in the most absurd ways. The public and its representative outfits (and that includes politicians themselves) should keep a steady and high pressure. Along with Snowden and other whistleblowers the circus won’t hold for long.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Well that explains it...

And it becomes all the clearer why some people in congress are throwing such massive fits over the info Snowden has been leaking. They have all but locked down the ‘official’ channels to get informed on the programs/agencies, but the leaks provide a vastly better ‘unofficial’ route to the same information that members of congress and the public otherwise would not have.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

They are afraid that the spin will not work this time.

They almost managed to tip the scales with Snowden, got their selected media lapdogs to gloss over Manning, and I’m sorry its really FUCKING convenient we suddenly are on red alert because of the chatter they picked up at NSA right when they need something to distract.

They violated their oath of office and the Constitution. They are worried that even the most partisan supporters will eventually turn on them if it all comes out.

They will never be punished for what they have done, unless becoming a lobbyist is actually a punishment. Their actions have made the country weaker and as long as they get paid they don’t care. They pushed the country faster towards ripping itself apart, all for a buck.

The only upside is they are so inept at trying to hide the truth, we get a little entertainment as we kick back in the handbasket.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The whole 22 embassy shutdown is BS political theater. There will probably be a raid(s) or a drone strike(s), followed by congratulations all around at “stopping the terrorist threat”. Then they are going to say “Thanks to the work of the NSA spying program we were able to prevent this attack”. This will be used in an attempt to justify keeping the program up and running.

This is the first time since the president took office that we find something that is transparent.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, wasn’t that red alert convenient? Anytime they’re coming under political fire, they issue a terror alert. Knowing how they operate, they’ll probably stage another attack using their CIA-created boogeymen, Al Qaeda, then blame it on Americans for wanting to protect their Constitutional rights.

I was reading comments on news forums about this topic and thankfully people seem alert to what’s really going on. There is hope.

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Rep. Mike Rogers

With that quote, you’ve got to take the context into consideration. The “eye of the needle” was a term that referred to the archway entering into certain larger cities. It was too small for the camel to just walk through. Getting the camel through required a fairly significant amount of work, it wasn’t an easy task, but it was possible.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Rep. Mike Rogers

Correction: he claims he’s a Christian. Although I’m in no position to judge him, I can judge his actions. If he’s knowingly lying and helping the government violate people’s rights, that’s inherently anti-Christian behavior.

Then again, politics has become almost synonymous with lying and stealing, so par for the course. How many of them have ties to Freemasonry (i.e. pagan)?

Livingston County says:

Re: Re: Rep. Mike Rogers

Well, I’m in a position to judge him because this jackass is from my hometown. He’s a convenient-Christian. That is, he talks up his religion as much as he can to guarantee he’s got the rural Michigan vote but when it comes time to protecting any of our interests, he seemingly forgets that helping your neighbor is a theme among The Bible.

What an embarrassment.

Medbob (profile) says:

Grayson?

I fully support the cause, but Grayson is a Class A butthole.
I wouldn’t give him access to my blog, let alone anything important.

On a different aspect; We’ve known about Echelon for a long time. That makes the classification of this newest program a total farce. I don’t understand why CongressCritters don’t merely notify the powers that be, that they are doing a full review of Classification Justification and develop a Special Committee for that.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The transcript is classified.”

Fine, the transcript is classified. In discussing the request they may well have touched upon classified issues. I have no problem with that.

But the vote itself should NOT be classified. The vote dealt only with a congressman’s request for information. There is no legitimate interest in hiding who voted for or against.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hold the phone a minute...

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, chimed in later: “We provided detailed briefings and papers on this to explain the law, to explain the process it was governing,” he said on NBC News last Saturday.

WTF is the DNI doing EXPLAINING THE LAW to the very people responsible for WRITING THE LAWS in the first place as if they aren’t capable of understanding what they have written. To make a statement like that takes real balls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hold the phone a minute...

Mr. Clapper,

Look, Congress writes the laws. It’s your job to follow them. Not the other way around. Furthermore, if I may offer you a small piece of advice. There is something in the Constitution (I know you aren’t a fan of it but this could benefit you greatly.) called the 5th amendment that says basically that you can STFU so that you don’t get yourself in more trouble. As just about every word that comes out of your mouth seems to make you look worse and worse, I’d advise you to read this tasty little tidbit and take advantage of the benefits that it affords.

BTW Shouldn’t you be in jail yet for this crap?

Anonymous Coward says:

If I were a congressman being denied any information on these unconstitutional programs, I would simply draft and vote for legislation to defund these unconstitutional programs.

If congress can’t even do that, which they failed to do with the Amish Amendment, then they truly are traitors to the Constitution and American people.

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