Well, this is how things work in a free society that values freedom and fights for freedom to keep our freedom free. Freedom!
Well, congresscritter, I don't think you'll be provided a much better reason to vote 'Aw, hell no' to any bills providing funding to the NSA...
I'm not wildly impressed by the chances; but "We can't vote on funding until we receive the information requested" is probably the closest thing to leverage everyone in congress not cool enough to be on the intelligence committee and get lied to in person has.
Time for a sequel -- Church Commission 2: The Republic Strikes Back
This alone should be grounds for rejection of any "intelligence" bills coming out of the committee.
Here's the thing that really scares me - remember that it is no longer standard operating procedure to deny information to the public. Now they lie.
What if they start doing the same thing to Congress? I mean, they've already indicated a willingness to lie to congress, what if they just get their funding through a pile of other bills that simply, you know... lie, about what they are for?
The Employee Strikes Back?
I'm sure the briefing went something like this:
Congressman, "So then; Who watches the watchers?"
NSA honcho, "Um.. That's a matter of National Security, sir, and we are not able to divulge that information."
I'm pretty sure this whole system isn't operating as initially intended.
Questioning the NSA in any way just means you want the terrorists to win.
That's just fine, as long as they don't lie about a blowjob. Then it's clobberin time!
Do I get to know which terrorists I'm rooting for, or is that list still classified? It's very hard to whole-heartedly support them when I don't even know if they have a cool slogan or anything...
Maybe now that the rank and file members of congress are getting the mushroom treatment (kept in the dark, fed bullshit) They will collectively grow enough of a spine to just start voting down EVERY spending measure from which the NSA could possibly be funded.
Be free of the tyranny of facts! Let your imagination soar.
And yet, they are still fully funded.
So I wrote Mike Rogers, my rep (lucky me) regarding my disapproval of his stance with this. This is the reply I got (this was on 7/31, btw):
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the protection of your Fourth Amendment rights. I appreciate hearing from
you on this important issue. As chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee, it is my responsibility to ensure strict and thorough
congressional oversight of the important work done by America’s
intelligence agencies. I have been disheartened by dangerous national
security leaks that have grossly distorted two vital National Security
Agency programs that have proved very effective in preventing terror
attacks in the U.S. without infringing on Americans’ privacy and civil
At a time when the Obama administration’s IRS, Benghazi and Justice Department scandals have understandably damaged Americans’ trust in
their government [bold is mine], *it is important to understand why
these programs are different. Neither program allows the NSA to read
e-mails or listen to phone calls of American citizens. Both programs
are constitutional and do not violate any American’s Fourth Amendment
rights. Both are strictly overseen by the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court, a federal court created in 1978 to protect the
rights of American citizens in the course of foreign intelligence
gathering. There are also several layers of checks and balances put in
place around these programs within the executive branch and Congress.
Both programs are overseen by lawyers and compliance auditors from the
Department of Justice, the director of national intelligence and
multiple independent inspectors general. Both have also been
authorized by large bipartisan majorities in Congress and are
regularly reviewed by the House and Senate intelligence committees.
The effectiveness of these programs is without question. Both have
produced vital intelligence that has prevented dozens of terrorist
attacks within the U.S. and around the world. The first program allows
the NSA to preserve a limited category of business records to help
identify foreign terrorists and their plots to attack the U.S. This
court-authorized program allows NSA to preserve only phone records
such as the numbers dialed and the date, time and duration of calls.
These records do not include the names or personal information of any
American and do not include any content of calls. When the NSA wants
to query the records, it must establish through a court-approved
process that there is a reasonable suspicion a specific number is
connected to a foreign terrorist. Only a limited number of analysts
can obtain approval to conduct a narrow and targeted search of those
numbers. If U.S. connections are found, they are passed to the FBI for
further investigation. If the FBI wants to determine the identity of a
phone number resulting from an NSA search, they must obtain a separate
court order. These call record searches, which are regularly audited
for compliance by all three branches of government, are a vital tool
for connecting the dots between foreign terrorists plotting attacks in
the U.S. and in other countries. The second program, known as PRISM,
allows the NSA to obtain a court order to access the electronic
communications of suspected foreign terrorists overseas. Because much
of the world’s Internet traffic flows through U.S. infrastructure, the
law allows the NSA to obtain the specific communications of foreign
suspects from U.S. companies with a court order. This program does not
create a “back door” to any U.S. company’s server. This program cannot
and does not monitor the communications of any U.S. citizens. All 535
members of Congress have had access to classified briefings describing
the specific uses of these two programs, though not all members have
chosen to attend these briefings. It is important to consider the
source of the news media leaks about these two vital intelligence
programs. These leaks came from a person not involved in the careful
execution of these programs, and with access to only small pieces of a
larger puzzle. He decided to break the law and the oath he took to the
American people by publicly disclosing parts of these classified
programs, and then fled to China. These are the actions of a felon,
not a whistle-blower. The effectiveness of these programs depends on
them being kept secret from the foreign terrorists they target. It is
much easier for terrorists to hide from us if they understand the
sources and methods of our intelligence gathering. We have already
seen al-Qaeda begin to shift their communication tactics as a result
of these leaks, and it will now be much harder for us to find them. It
is no coincidence that the leaders from across the American political
spectrum who take the time to understand these important programs are
also their strongest supporters. They understand that these narrowly
targeted programs are legal, do not invade Americans’ privacy rights,
and are essential to detecting and disrupting future terrorist
attacks. Rest assured I take the privacy rights of Americans very
seriously. As Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence I will continue vigilant oversight of these programs to
ensure they are not abused and would never allow such techniques to be
used against American citizens, without due process. For a link to the
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on the issue,
please click here: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/313429-1 Again,
thank you for contacting me. Please keep in touch with any additional
questions or concerns.
Rich, huh? I emailed him today with the links to the http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/3-shocking-revelations-nsas-most-terrifying-program-yet?page=0%2C1 article and the http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/04/congress-nsa-denied-access today to get his response.
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