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Friday, January 10, 2014

Republican Congress Blocking NSA Intelligence Findings from American People and World Leaders

Why does the Republican-controlled House Committee on Intelligence conceal their information from the American people? "National defense", you say. You mean to say my personal privacy if not captured clandestinely - unlawfully - by your government snoops our nation would be endangered? Dereliction in your Oversight mandate, although contributory, is not the predominant reason. Cover-up is. Gimme us a break.

The Republican mouthpieces tell us "We don't control the Senate, so we can't get anything done!" That's akin to saying that three men are banging on your door, and you whining "I'm outnumbered and can't do a thing!" That's right throw your wife and children in front of the subway, and hide in a closet, that's what you'd do.

Well, you know what - - we've concluded you've had more than enough time to get it right and haven't. Whether you're derelict in your "intelligence oversight" duties or just plain Treason is an arguable point. You may be self-graded as "ethical", but Moral you're not.

The American people have had their full of the dishonesty and your personal wealth accumulating characters at our expense. Time to go; but before you just get away with a life pension and wrist slap, we-the-people want to have a go at you in a court of our own. That's all we ask, just tell the people who's tweakin' your twinkie.

here's how AllGov explains it:

Congressional Oversight of NSA. Blink and You'll Miss It

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chairman of the House Permanent 
Select Committee on Intelligence 
Rep. Mike Rogers(R) 8th District 
of Michigan
Congress in the 1970s created for the first time two committees, one each in the House and Senate, to oversee the intelligence community after a congressional inquiry discovered the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on Americans.

Today, government watchdog groups and even some lawmakers argue that the intelligence committees have failed to provide proper oversight of U.S. spy agencies, particularly the NSA in light of the recent revelations provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

At the center of this debate are the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, created in 1978 in the wake of the Pike and Church investigations that exposed abuses by the CIA and NSA. From that point on, the panels were charged with keeping a close eye on intelligence operations so that the illegal spying uncovered by Representative Otis Pike (D-New York) and Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho) never happened again.

But as last year’s revelations about the NSA’s controversial surveillance programs demonstrated, the congressional intelligence committees have failed to do their mandated jobs. Too often, critics say, lawmakers on these panels play nice with intelligence officials from the Executive Branch, and too often treat them, in the words of Ryan Lizza of New Yorker, “like matinĂ©e idols.”

“It’s time for Congress to reassert its oversight role and begin a full-scale investigation into the NSA’s surveillance and analytic activities. The current investigations—which aren't led by Congress—are unable to fully investigate the revelations, Congressional committees' hearings have added little, and Congress cannot rely solely on mandating more reports from the NSA as a solution,” wrote Mark Jaycox and Lee Tien wrote of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which champions privacy rights on the Internet.

Some members of Congress, like Representative Alan Grayson (D-Florida), are frustrated with the intelligence committees, saying their members are privy to important details about spying, while everyone else in Capitol Hill is left in the dark.

“Despite being a member of Congress possessing security clearance, I've learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from reading media reports than I have from ‘intelligence’ briefings,” Grayson wrote in The Guardian.

Grayson says that when he has asked for classified information and meetings with the NSA, the House intelligence committee has refused to provide either.

“Supporters of the NSA’s vast ubiquitous domestic spying operation assure the public that members of Congress can be briefed on these activities whenever they want. Senator Saxby Chambliss [R-Georgia] says all a member of Congress needs to do is ask for information, and he'll get it. Well I did ask, and the House Intelligence Committee said ‘no,’ repeatedly. And virtually every other member not on the Intelligence Committee gets the same treatment,” Grayson added.

The EFF notes that former lawmakers who helped create the intelligence committees have also complained about their ineffectiveness and that they are not doing what Congress intended. These critics include former Vice President Walter Mondale and Senator Gary Hart (D-Colorado).

What’s needed, according to Jaycox and Tien, is for Congress to bypass its intelligence committees and create a special panel to probe the NSA in light of what Snowden and newspapers have exposed.

“Such a committee will allow Congress to delve into what other data the NSA may be collecting en masse about Americans, to learn about how the surveillance laws it passed are being used, and to inform the American public—all while protecting national security. It's a tough balancing act, but Congress was able to do it in the 1970s with the Church and Pike Committees. And it should have the courage to do it again today,” they wrote.

-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
State of Deception (by Ryan Lizza, New Yorker)