April 24, 2014

Members Of Congress Denied Access To Basic Information About NSA

August 4, 2013

Glenn Greenwald

| Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is author of three New York Times Bestselling books: two on the Bush administration's executive power (How Would a Patriot Act?), and foreign policy abuses (A Tragic Legacy.) His latest book is With Liberty and Justice for Some.

Opinions from Liberty Crier contributors and members are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Liberty Crier.

congress-dome-building-350x250Documents provided by two House members demonstrate how they are blocked from exercising any oversight over domestic surveillance.

Members of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the secret FISA court which authorizes its activities, documents provided by two House members demonstrate.

From the beginning of the NSA controversy, the agency’s defenders have insisted that Congress is aware of the disclosed programs and exercises robust supervision over them. “These programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate,” President Obama said the day after the first story on NSA bulk collection of phone records was published in this space. “And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up.”

But members of Congress, including those in Obama’s party, have flatly denied knowing about them. On MSNBC on Wednesday night, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct) was asked by host Chris Hayes: “How much are you learning about what the government that you are charged with overseeing and holding accountable is doing from the newspaper and how much of this do you know?” The Senator’s reply:

The revelations about the magnitude, the scope and scale of these surveillances, the metadata and the invasive actions surveillance of social media Web sites were indeed revelations to me.”

But it is not merely that members of Congress are unaware of the very existence of these programs, let alone their capabilities. Beyond that, members who seek out basic information – including about NSA programs they are required to vote on and FISA court (FISC) rulings on the legality of those programs – find that they are unable to obtain it.

Members Of Congress Denied Access To Basic Information About NSA [continued]

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  • Revisionistic

    Our government works for private companies, insurance, big businesses, prisons, federal reserves… No laws apply to them, and they have created their own government and military…
    the rich and the powerful have always attempted to rule the world… That agenda has never changed, people are just less likely to believe in it now because they’re too entertained.

  • LaRae Bailey

    the whole damned works is corrupt, power hungry and going to destroy this country and the constitution all at the same time. clean up required from the top dog down to the last peon standing

  • Bisley

    Senators and Congressmen must have unrestricted access to all government information, along with the ability to de-classify information and fire, or prosecute anyone who obstructs them. How can there be any “oversight”, if they can’t find out what’s going on?

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