NSA Appears To Be Seducing Sen. John Cornyn With Personal Tours And One-On-One Meetings

from the 702-ways-to-leave-your-lover dept

One of the surveillance state’s biggest cheerleaders is seeing his years of support pay off.

Two congressional sources confirmed a May meeting, where Sen. John Cornyn, (R-Tex.), a vocal supporter of the intelligence community, got a private audience with the NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers.

Cornyn also got a private tour of the signals intelligence facility at Fort Meade, Maryland at the same time as the May meeting.

Officials “familiar with the situation” (possibly read “jealous as hell”) expressed concern about Cornyn’s personal NSA tour. And for good reason. If Rogers and other NSA officials were feeding Cornyn information the rest of the NSA’s Congressional oversight isn’t privy to, that’s a problem. It’s more of a problem as the date for Section 702’s reauthorization approaches. And it seems even more problematic that Cornyn was given a personal walk-and-talk while oversight members were failing to get substantive answers from the DNI during a Senate hearing.

There’s a long history of the IC playing favorites with oversight members (and vice versa) and a long history of those favorites withholding information from other members of Congress. This visit/personal chat may have been innocuous but given its context — the Section 702 renewal — it looks shady as hell.

The additional context is the DNI’s office believes all is forgiven — or at least, no longer relevant. Reversing Clapper’s promise to hand in something on incidentally-collected US persons’ communications, the new Director is saying that’s just not going to happen.

The Foreign Policy article notes that it’s common for incoming reps and senators to be given a tour and that oversight members routinely visit the NSA as part of their oversight duties, but this Cornyn-only event definitely appears to be the agency making a play for unbridled support from a powerful Senator.

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