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Watch The Video Of Rep. Mike Rogers Attacking Fellow Reps For Saying They Had No Idea NSA Spied On Foreign Leaders

from the could-he-be-any-more-condescending? dept

Yesterday, we wrote about the incredible exchange between Reps. Mike Rogers and Adam Schiff, after Rogers made a big production out of claiming that of course the House Intelligence Committee knew all about the NSA spying on foreign leaders. Schiff (and some others on the committee) made it clear that, contrary to Rogers' condescending claims earlier, they had no idea, despite being on the committee. However, to understand the level of dripping condescension from Rogers towards his colleagues who contradict him on the Committee, you really have to watch the video. If C-SPAN's video clipping service is working correctly (and it's crazy buggy), you should see the whole thing below (or at this link, starting with Schiff's questions to the panel, in which he makes it clear that he was not informed, and that he's not at all happy with James Clapper trying to tap dance around this by spewing a bunch of words that don't mean anything about how he tries to follow "the spirit" of the law.

The fun starts a little over five and a half minutes in when Rogers starts lecturing Schiff about not saying what Schiff knows is true, and making not-particularly-veiled claims that if only Schiff had done his homework, he'd know about it. Schiff shoots back to point out that dumping a ton of documents and insisting that he must know everything in them is quite different than directly informing him of this very serious activity, leading to a long and ridiculous lecture from Rogers that has to be watched to see the scolding father tone he adopts, all the while knowing he's full of crap, because Schiff clearly has him dead to rights. The information may have been buried somewhere, but the Committee clearly was not informed directly about these activities. If they had been, when Schiff asked his question of Clapper, Clapper wouldn't have tap danced like he did around the question. He would have just said, "We did inform you."
Here's a bit of the transcript, though you have to see the tone to believe it.
Rogers: I would argue that to say that we're in the dark is mystifying to me. Some members spend a lot more time based on their schedules, which are significant, in this Congress. But, it is disingenuous to imply that this Committee did not have a full and complete understanding of activities of the intelligence community, as was directed under the national intelligence priority framework, to include sources and methods.

Schiff: Will the Chairman yield?

Rogers: I would yield.

Schiff: Chairman, are you suggesting you and the Committee were informed of the wiretapping of foreign leaders if that report is correct?

Rogers: Well, I wouldn't confirm any specific activity by intelligence community. As the gentleman knows -- as I have highlighted -- that we have access to all sources and methods and there is lots of product to be reviewed by the Intelligence Committee, through the Intelligence Committee and through the members of the Committee. Any implication that through the reviews that this Committee would not be informed to the status that has been in question is not correct.

Schiff I'd be interested to know, Mr. Chairman --

Rogers: We would be happy to take you to the committee and spend a couple of hours going through mounds of product that would allow member to be as informed as a member wishes to be on sources and methods and all activities of the intelligence community under the national intelligence framework.

Schiff: I would just say --

Rogers: I think we need to be careful about what we talk about but I think it would be disingenuous to use the classification...

Schiff: ... I think it would be disingenuous, Mr. Chairman, to suggest we have information if we don't have it. I would like to find out just what we were informed by the intelligence community. I would also like to find out if this is in the posture that you sometimes see in litigation, where you're given a warehouse full of documents...

Rogers: Again, reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time. This is a very unique Committee on Capitol Hill. It's the only committee on both sides of the chamber that has both military and civilian intelligence activities. That is an enormous responsibility for every member of this committee, enormous. We don't get to take personal staff from the office to assist in processing of information we may have to do as members of this committee. I think it is to the semantics of exactly who, what, when or why, if you're asking if intelligence community submits a selector to every engagement in their business to the intelligence committee, that would be ridiculous. And no one would receive information in that way, not even the Director of National Intelligence would receive it in that particular way. To know what the framework is and know what the guidelines are and know what the reporting is and go through the very significant oversight of this Committee and the review of the product, which is incredibly important to the end, and to say this Committee is somehow in the dark on intelligence activities simply is not accurate.

I think we need to be incredibly careful about making any assertions that somehow we're in the dark because that information is available in robust amounts of material in our particular Committee. It is time consuming. I get it. It's a very time consuming committee. Again, this feeds into this flame of misreporting about lack of oversight or our intelligence community is running around doing what they want to do outside of the law or any oversight is wrong. Again, I just caution members before you might make any statement to the contrary, I would argue that a significant portion of your time should be spent in the committee reviewing the materials available and made available by the Intelligence Committee accordance with the law we are charged to do. With that, Miss Bachmann.

Schiff: Mr. Chairman, can I --

Rogers: Nope.

Schiff: -- will you yield?

Rogers: No. Reclaiming my time. I will not. Miss Bachmann.
And, just for fun, I've left Bachmann's questions in the video if you'd like to see what was so important that Rogers had to "reclaim his time" and not allow Schiff to speak. It's a bunch of questions about just how evil Ed Snowden is, complete with making the entire panel state that Snowden is a traitor, despite not actually fitting the classification under the law. The only one who refused to play that game was James Cole who says considering the legal proceedings, he really can't comment, which Bachmann refuses to accept as an answer.

So, rather than actually get to the heart of the matter on an important question of whether or not the intelligence community actually provided this important information to the Committee, we're treated to a game of bogus name calling. Ladies and gentleman, this is "Congressional oversight" under the leadership of Mike Rogers.
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Filed Under: adam schiff, michele bachmann, mike rogers, nsa, nsa surveillance

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  1. icon
    Rich Fiscus (profile), 30 Oct 2013 @ 3:08pm

    The more Rogers opens his mouth, the more convinced I am he has a lot more to hide than just bad behavior as committee chairman. Let's look at the facts.

    He has close personal ties to the intelligence contracting industry.
    His wife is a former intelligence contractor executive who is now among the most powerful lobbyists in Washington for that industry. She also serves on the board of directors for Qualys Inc, which appears to be the world's largest provider of cloud security services whose partnerships read like a who's who of telecom and application service providers. According to Wikipedia that list includes both Verizon and British Telecom.

    Qualys and Booz Allen Hamilton are both influential members of the Cloud Security Alliance. After a few minutes of (extremely incomplete) research it looks like the CSA is the industry group primarily responsible for identifying and responding to security vulnerabilities.

    Mike Rogers is the leading fear monger for the so-called cyberwar threat which extends from the contractors all the way up to the Director of National Intelligence.
    After the Supreme Court unceremoniously shut down the NSA's illegal nationwide wiretapping program and ordered them to shut down their listening stations on telco premises there were suddenly thousands of intelligence operatives and a mission. That was in 2006.

    In 2007 Mike McConnell took over as DNI and started whispering in the president's ear about the insidious threat of cyberwar. In short order he had arranged for a $200 billion cyberdefense contract for Booz Allen Hamilton where he became Vice Chairman upon his retirement. Before retiring, though, he organized a fear mongering campaign with the assistance of military leaders, most notably Keith Alexander, who became the head of the newly created US Cyber Command.

    James Clapper succeeded McConnell after Obama took office and cranked the fear mongering up to 11 with a widespread PR campaign providing nebulous details about attacks which had supposedly already resulted in major breaches of government systems. The level of rhetoric inside the administration got so bad that the one actual security professional Obama selected as an advisor opted to leave at the beginning of his second term because nobody was listening to him.

    Clapper, on the other hand, pushed Obama into letting him draft a new policy for US cyberdefense which neatly sums up the real end game of the growing surveillance industrial complex. In a nutshell it says:

    1. The Internet is not a secure communications system.
    2. Government systems keep getting hacked.
    3. Therefore Internet infrastructure is the problem and the NSA needs to be put in charge of it.

    Mike Rogers is the standard bearer for cyberwar propaganda, primarily through his advocacy for CISPA
    Unlike the government, corporate America has a pretty good track record with respect to the security of their computer systems. It's not perfect, but compared to the government it might as well be. There is no real oversight or auditing of government system security. We do know they can't even protect themselves from the threat of thumb drives even though their own security protocols dictate USB ports be locked down.

    It's no secret the real purpose for CISPA is immunity for granting the government access to any and all private data. So why would so many tech companies be supporting it? For many it's almost certainly fear. National Security Letters are impossible to fight. Even the handful of companies with the resources to go through the motions will be fighting with both hands tied behind their backs because the most important evidence is classified and therefore out of their reach.

    But that doesn't explain why IBM decided to pay for 300 executives to fly to Washington and personally lobby for the bill. They didn't spend that kind of money for fireside chats with government IT drones. Either they were desperate for the immunity or they were anticipating a return on their investment of another kind.

    Mike Rogers' psychotic break
    Rogers looks just as desperate to keep the bodies buried as IBM. When Microsoft and Facebook bowed to public pressure over CISPA and withdrew their support Mike Rogers went off the rails and around the bend and he hasn't been back since. Keep in mind this was before the Snowden leaks surface so as far as he knew there was no risk of government secrets coming out.

    He also remembered how the 2006 NSA wiretapping case eventually made it to the Supreme Court because an AT&T employee blew the whistle. He knew it would only be a matter of time before some conscientious private sector employee went public and the whole house of cards would fall. CISPA's immunity represented a shield against discovery in civil court and a way to keep NSA partners quiet.

    Most people see his ongoing public temper tantrums as clueless bullying but that doesn't add up. When he was just talking down to all us commoners in the street that made sense. But you don't get to be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee without being a savvy politician and you certainly don't get their by telling the rest of Congress to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. This isn't arrogance - at least not anymore. It's panic and hysteria.

    Ask yourself this. Why is a senior Republican Congressman desperately trying to protect a Democratic president's administration from the most embarrassing scandal since Watergate?

    He could have convened a media circus of hearings, probably drowning out all the allegations against himself, and possibly even coming out of it the hero of his party for bringing down the hated opposition. Why is he falling on his sword for that president instead?

    The only explanation that makes sense to me is he's more scared of whatever would come out of those hearings than he is of committing political suicide. These aren't the actions of somebody who just knows where the bodies are buried. He looks more like a guy with the shovel in his garage and fresh piles of dirt in his backyard.

    As information continues to come out from the Snowden leaks I fully expect Mike Rogers to look less like a self centered, arrogant jerk and more like a co-conspirator. No matter how long he keeps digging that hole he won't be able to tunnel out of this.

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