Rep. Morgan Griffith: If Latest Leaks On NSA Had Come Out Earlier, NSA-Defunding Amendment Would Have Passed
from the time-to-focus-on-the-future dept
Hindsight being 217-205 and all that, but one of the reps voting for Justin Amash's NSA-defunding amendment has noted that had last Thursday's revelation of widespread domestic spying broken a little earlier, the amendment would have sailed through easily.
"We only needed seven votes to switch and I think there were at least seven, probably more like 20-30, who had their concerns about the program but were prepared to give the intelligence agencies the benefit of the doubt," Rep. Morgan Griffith, Virginia Republican, told The Washington Times after the NSA rules violations came to light.That would have been nice and would have sent another message that everyone's a bit tired of the NSA's "inadvertent but completely lawful and relevant' schtick. What would have been even better is if some of this information had been discovered by those charged with overseeing the NSA. It's rather troubling that our legislators are discovering more about the NSA from journalists than from the oversight committees.
Instead, the oversight committees have taken an almost-antagonistic approach to disseminating information. Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger have, on multiple occasions, withheld information from other members of Congress. And what's not being withheld is being actively lied about by intelligence officials.
Mr. Griffith says that the intelligence community, which defended the program and worked to preserve it against the legislation onslaught, misled Congress.At this point, it would seem any further debriefings or inquiries would be pointless. Those questioned have lied in the past and have refused to stop lying even when faced with the possibility that new evidence will be revealed that exposes their lies. A more forward-thinking agency might start offering up other problematic tactics in hopes of controlling the narrative when the next leak hits. Instead, it seems content to send out rehashed rhetoric as "statements" in response to each new leak, hammering the meaning of its favorite buzzwords: relevant, collecting, legal, oversight.
"We were being told there were 'some' errors, like a few," Mr. Griffith said, referring to sworn congressional testimony about the domestic programs from senior intelligence, FBI and Justice Department officials. "They gave everyone the impression these [errors] were very rare. If [my colleagues] had realized how many [violations of privacy protection or legal rules] there were, I think more than seven of them would have switched."
On the plus side, the revelations may generate more support for Rush Holt's attempt to kill off the PATRIOT Act and wind back the overreach of the FISA Amendments Act. In addition, Justin Amash is looking to introduce another bill to pick up where his narrowly defeated amendment left off. Every little bit helps and last week's bombshell pretty much destroyed the NSA's claims of internal controls and "no evidence of abuse."