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.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 7:07am

    Easy fix:

    Just send around subscription forms for the Guardian newspaper. Then rather than discussing the NSA directly, they can just 'discuss the news'.

    If nothing else it would make for some entertaining threats, as (what is increasingly looking like) the NSA's lapdogs start sending out threats telling congresscritters to stop reading the newspaper.

     

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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 7:50am

    In other headlines...

    House Intelligence Committee threatens member with sanctions for providing intelligence to the House Committee that oversees Intelligence.

    Follow up:

    House Intelligence Committee denies having any intelligence on recently reported stories about the recent lack of oversight on Intelligence.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    I tell you, start sending copies of the article and the leaked stuff to the Congress in an never-ending flood a la Harry Potter when his moronic relatives refuse to deliver the letter. At some point they'll be forced back from denial ;)

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:03am

    Committees are killing this country. Due to the way that Congress operates, very small selections of congressmen actually control the entire country by restricting access. See: Lamar Smith killing NASA and defunding the NSF as chairman of the House Science Committee, the ongoing scandals originating from the House Intelligence Committee, the sheer corruption of the House Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.

     

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      JohnnyRotten (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 10:52am

      Re:

      This how it works for nearly every federal and state legislative body in the country (and many outside of it).

      This isn't a problem - it's a simple common sense way to operate given limited resources and expertise.

       

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:12am

    The Light of Day...

    ...Oh it burns, it burns.

     

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    wallow-T, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:19am

    Everyone is so intent on denial. The coup has happened, the police state is in place, the Constitution is dead.

    Even if the National Security power agrees to tear down "this" set of programs, modern communications infrastructure is simply too tempting a target and they'll just set up new programs.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:20am

    The committee obviously wishes to keep the rest of congress as ignorant as they are as to what is going on.
    /sarc (maybe).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:25am

    surely, more than anything, this shows that the House Intelligence Committee or parts of the Intelligence Agencies themselves think or desire to be running things and that Congress is answerable to it/them rather than it/them answerable to Congress.
    i wonder how much further the USA will sink before somebody actually grabs it by the scruff of the neck, gives it a damn good shaking and bring it back to reality? if it doesn't happen soon, it will be too late for anything other than this 'Facist lookalike' to be removed! so sad that a country that was formed because of the way it was being treated by the 'Holier than thou' attitude of the British and started as a country where all were equal, has come to this!

     

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    TasMot (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Need more Sand .... NEED MORE SAND

    Please bring more sand for sticking heads in, we're running out of room..........

     

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    Wally (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:54am

    Legally speaking...

    I'm starting to wonder if the House Intelligence Committee realizes that it's against the law to lie to congress when being addressed by them in a hearing initiated by the Congressional Oversight Committee. It's clear that they not only lied, but now there is evidence that they were threatening a fellow congressman.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 10:09am

      Re: Legally speaking...

      Lying is such a nasty word, I would much prefer innovate. Come on, authors do fiction all the time so why shouldn't politicians be allowed to?

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 1:17pm

      Re: Legally speaking...

      They weren't lying, they were just making the least untrue statement. /s

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:56am

    Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is our tax dollars at work.

    If Congress was, for example, a contract manufacturer, and gave you "product" with this level of "quality," would you accept it or get another manufacturer?

    This Congress has totally redefined the term "sucks" to the point where now they're just acting totally retarded.

     

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      The Real Michael, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

      Re:

      It's called living in denial. Feigning ignorance won't make the leaked documents go away anymore than wearing blindfolds will make the sun disappear. The HIC is in effect obstructing Congress from oversight.

       

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    Surfing By, Aug 5th, 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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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 11:24am

      Re: Supreme Court Ruling Backs Grayson

      "for any Speech or Debate in either House, [a Senator or Representative] shall not be questioned in any other Place"

      But he can still be sanctioned *by Congress*. It only prohibits being questioned in any OTHER place; it allows that Congress itself can sanction him.

       

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      Lurker Keith, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

      Re: Supreme Court Ruling Backs Grayson

      I was going to mention Article I, Section 6 if someone else didn't. You went into more detail than I was planning though, so good for you.

       

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    AC, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    This explains a lot

    We always suspected our representatives were more ignorant about the issues than their average constituent, now we know why: it's legally required.
    Get informed? Lose your access!

     

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    Oblate (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 10:45am

    Might be a technicality, but even dumber than it seems

    Government employees are not allowed to have classified documents on unsecured computers. Common sense is not allowed to be factored in. Previously, government employees were told that if they downloaded classified documents from Wikileaks, online newspapers, or other publicly available sources that their computers would have to be sterilized. In that limited context, one employee (Grayson) sending these classified documents and 'contaminating' dozens or hundreds of other computers is a huge problem. It seems like a solution would be an exception for leaked and publicly available documents, except that a) that would make sense, and b) some people would still like to keep this info hidden. It's almost as if they think they can stick the heads of every other Senator in the sand and expect them to stay there.

     

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    Disgusted., Aug 5th, 2013 @ 10:59am

    We are no longer a republic. This is disgusting and Rogers is a clown. (My opinion, don't get your panties in a bunch Rogers.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    I don't know what sort of rules and regulations cover congressional sanctions, but if discussing front-page newspaper items can make you a viable target for them, then they're not very well-written.

     

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    seal, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    maybe some Congresspersons are on the take from NSA

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

      Re:

      Probably a mix of lucrative kickbacks from affected companies, and the NSA putting some of that data they gathered to good use 'persuading' congresscritters to cooperate.

       

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        The Real Michael, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re:

        Sounds like political blackmail to me.

         

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          That One Guy (profile), Aug 5th, 2013 @ 9:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Quite possibly, and the saddest part? That would be the best case scenario, as opposed to the other alternatives of selling the country out for a quick buck, and/or betraying the people who elected them by passing laws that the people would never find acceptable.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    House Intelligence Committee sounds like a bunch of brain dead thugs.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Retaliatory Expulsion?

    Hopefully the house intelligence committee will end up expelled or at least reprimanded for this. They threaten large enough numbers and well, they'll stand their ground metaphorically speaking. Cue the email barrages.

     

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