House Intelligence Committee Threatens Rep. Grayson For Informing Other Reps About Leaked NSA Docs From The Guardian

from the congressional-failures dept

We already wrote about Glenn Greenwald's piece from this weekend concerning Rep. Mike Rogers and the House Intelligence Committee actively blocking access to information, documents and briefings for other members of Congress who have expressed interest in the details of the NSA surveillance program, but I wanted to focus in on a separate issue in that same article. In the original post, we noted how Rep. Alan Grayson was told directly by Rogers that the Intelligence Committee had taken a "voice vote" and decided to deny his request for some information (and when he asked for more details, he was told that it was "classified").

Grayson, of course, was one of the first members of Congress to speak out forcefully about the NSA surveillance program and why he found it to be unconstitutional. As we showed at the time, Grayson's speech, included a posterboard of some of the slides that were published in the Guardian from Snowden's leak. In fact, we pointed out that it seemed especially ridiculous for the government to block access to the Guardian or other websites that had published the same documents, in part because Grayson had shown those same documents on the House floor. To pretend that they were still classified is just the ultimate in sticking your head in the sand.

But, it gets worse. At the end of the Greenwald piece, we find out that the House Intelligence Committee threatened Grayson with sanctions for sharing the same slides that were published by the Guardian with fellow members of Congress:
In early July, Grayson had staffers distribute to House members several slides published by the Guardian about NSA programs as part of Grayson's efforts to trigger debate in Congress. But, according to one staff member, Grayson's office was quickly told by the House Intelligence Committee that those slides were still classified, despite having been published and discussed in the media, and directed Grayson to cease distribution or discussion of those materials in the House, warning that he could face sanctions if he continued.
Think about that for a second. Here were documents that were published in major newspapers, discussing issues of key importance for Congress -- and a member of Congress is actually being threatened with sanctions for daring to send this front page news around to other colleagues in order to have a discussion about the NSA's actions. At this point, it would appear that the House Intelligence Committee isn't just failing at its job of handling oversight for the intelligence agencies, but it's now actively obstructing the rest of Congress from living up to their oath as Congressional Representatives to protect the Constitution.

Filed Under: alan grayson, classified info, house intelligence committee, mike rogers, nsa, nsa surveillance, sanctions

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  1. identicon
    Surfing By, 5 Aug 2013 @ 10:07am

    Supreme Court Ruling Backs Grayson

    A Congressman enjoys extraordinary leeway in discussing and publishing documents in the course of his legislative duties. This particular threat seems especially silly since the documents are already public knowledge. Will the Intelligence Committee forbid congressional members from reading the newspapers, like DOD did with its employees?

    Senator Gravel entered classified Vietnam War documents into the Congressional Record from a subcommittee position that had nothing to do with Intelligence. From the entry in Wikipedia on "The Pentagon Papers:"

    To ensure the possibility of public debate about the content of the papers, on June 29, US Senator Mike Gravel entered 4,100 pages of the Papers to the record of his Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds. These portions of the Papers were subsequently published by Beacon Press, the publishing arm of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.[9]

    Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution provides that "for any Speech or Debate in either House, [a Senator or Representative] shall not be questioned in any other Place", thus the Senator could not be prosecuted for anything said on the Senate floor, and, by extension, for anything entered to the Congressional Record, allowing the Papers to be publicly read without threat of a treason trial and conviction. This was confirmed by the Supreme Court in the decision Gravel v. United States.

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