Rep. Justin Amash: House Intelligence Committee Withheld NSA Documents From Incoming Congressmen

from the Mike-Rogers'-streak-of-'dick-moves'-continues-unabated dept

Defenders of the NSA’s program always point to two things: it’s all legal and it’s all subject to oversight. Part of the “oversight” is the FISA “thumbs up” system that has approved every request for two years in a row. The other part of the “oversight” is Congress itself.

Unfortunately, members of Congress have been lied to directly about the extent of the collections occurring under Section 215 (and 702), so that’s one strike against the “oversight.” Now, it appears that members of Congress are being selectively provided with information about the programs.

Rep. Justin Amash, (attempted) NSA defunder, posted this to his Facebook wall last night. It’s a recently declassified document addressed to Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger. This cover letter accompanied documents detailing the bulk collections authorized by Sections 215 and 402 (pen register/trap and trace). [Click through to enlarge.]


At the beginning of the second paragraph, the cover letter (dated Feb. 2, 2011) notes:

We believe that making this document available to all Members of Congress, as we did with a similar document in 2009, is an effective way to inform the legislative debate about the reauthorization of Section 215.

There’s your “oversight” for you: the assistant attorney general calling for these documents to be shared with all Congress members in order to give them the oversight capabilities NSA spokesmen keep claiming is keeping the agency in check. Except, as Amash points out on his FB page, Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger never bothered sharing these documents.

Less than two weeks ago, the Obama administration released previously classified documents regarding ‪#‎NSA‬’s bulk collection programs and indicated that two of these documents had been made available to all Members of Congress prior to the vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act. I can now confirm that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence did NOT, in fact, make the 2011 document available to Representatives in Congress, meaning that the large class of Representatives elected in 2010 did not receive either of the now declassified documents detailing these programs.

It appears the Committee was extremely selective (hence its name?) about who it would share these documents with. Incoming Congress members need not apply.

So, when Feinstein and others greeted the leaks with a shrug and a blase “We’ve known about this for years,” there was probably some truth to those claims. Certain Representatives and Senators knew. Some even tried to warn the public. Still others had no idea, not until the details began appearing, not in security briefings, but at The Guardian and Washington Post.

Maybe the NSA really thought every representative was on the same page. Maybe it knew there were “gaps” in the oversight but didn’t care. Considering its position as the most secretive of intelligence agencies, it probably figured the smaller the loop, the better.

According to this document, it was left in the hands of Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger to disperse the information to the other members of Congress. And it appears they chose not to.

“Oversight” like this, based on selective inclusion, is a joke — something that affects all Americans is guided into the hands of a chosen few, most of whom wholeheartedly support the NSA’s programs. Mike Rogers continues to mold the “oversight” into his own image, withholding these documents in 2011 and, more recently, denying crucial information on the FISA court and the PRISM program to representatives who wished to use it to get up to speed before the vote on Amash’s NSA-directed amendment.

This isn’t “oversight.” This is Mike Rogers abusing his position to control the narrative and keep the NSA running smoothly, safely hidden away from those tasked with overseeing these surveillance programs. The NSA and its defenders can talk all they want about “oversight,” but this is nothing more than Rogers carving out a fiefdom at the expense of the American public.

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Comments on “Rep. Justin Amash: House Intelligence Committee Withheld NSA Documents From Incoming Congressmen”

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23 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Next: Mike Roger staffers send a DMCA notice to Techdirt ISP.

If direct lawsuit threats don’t work you can always go copyright for some free censorship ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now, on a more serious note: Rogers deliberately lies and upholds information from the Congress. I shall await his punishment.

Ninja and a few techdirt readers after 100 years of waiting for politician misdeeds to be punished

out_of_the_blue says:

Focusing on Rogers avoids the huge SYSTEMIC problem.

Just diffuses attention. Besides, we already know the problems! It’s ALL due to a totally corrupt ruling class that fully intends to enslave everyone else. NSA is just ONE of their instruments toward that goal.

Just save time and fretting: mark Congress off your list of agents of change, because matters are now way past that stage, they’ve ALL proven either corrupt or ineffective.

It’s time for Populism, another New Deal to again level the playing field against The Rich who own the corporations which own the gov’ts.

ioconnor (profile) says:

We Need Music for Change

Problem is that more than 99 percent of our population consists of lemmings. These lemmings could be reached by music though. Maybe it would be easiest to take old popular breeder music and replace the lyrics with catchy thought provoking music. Make the loser/idiot/dweeb into the guy that votes Democratic or Republican. Make the narratives ridicule current political shenanigans.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm wondering also......

The only way that will happen is through vigilante justice. Seeing how Homeland Security has been heavily militarizing the police, how the NSA & FBI are intercepting all communications, and how coordinated our government is in punishing any dissent, well that will fail like a whale trying to fly.

Anonymous Coward says:

making the information available, as it states in the letter above, doesn’t mean and obviously didn’t mean that it was going to be discussed or any notice was going to be taken of anyone or the decisions made by Congress anyway. this is nothing but absolute horse shit! and the biggest dropper of it is Rogers. what a liar he is!!

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