Congress: How can we do oversight of NSA surveillance with Obama’s team continually lying to us?

posted at 4:01 pm on July 11, 2013 by Allahpundit

I used to think it was impossible to have a meaningful “national debate” on mass surveillance because too many of the nuts and bolts were classified, or because most members of Congress were too cowardly to take this topic on. Your incentive as a legislator is to err on the side of counterterrorism since it’ll shield you from blame in case there’s another big attack. By ducking the issue and rubber-stamping whatever O wants, you get to cover your ass on national security and point the finger at him in case the program runs into political trouble.

But maybe those aren’t the biggest barriers to a surveillance review. Maybe the biggest barrier is that … Congress often doesn’t know what’s going on because Team Hopenchange keeps lying to them.

The most recent example came on March 12, when James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the government was not collecting information about millions of Americans. He later acknowledged that the statement was “erroneous” and apologized, citing a misunderstanding.

On three occasions since 2009, top Justice Department officials said the government’s ability to collect business records in terrorism cases is generally similar to that of law enforcement officials during a grand jury investigation. That comparison, some lawmakers now say, signaled to them that data was being gathered on a case-by-case basis, rather than the records of millions of Americans’ daily communications being vacuumed up in bulk.

In addition, two Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee say that even in top-secret briefings, officials “significantly exaggerated” the effectiveness of at least one program that collected data on Americans’ e-mail usage

“The national security state has grown so that any administration is now not upfront with Congress,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee. “It’s an imbalance that’s grown in our government, and one that we have to cleanse.”…

Wyden said that a number of administration statements have made it “impossible for the public or Congress to have a genuinely informed debate” about government surveillance.

The Post also quotes complaints from Republicans Mick Mulvaney and Jim Sensenbrenner, who, amazingly, seems to have been caught completely off-guard by the executive branch’s aggressive interpretations of the Patriot Act he co-authored. That’s why I’m torn on how much to blame O here. Blame him entirely, by all means, for lying to the people’s representatives, but how seriously can you take congressional grumbles about executive overreach when they helped build the post-9/11 surveillance apparatus in the first place? Even now, it’s hard to tell how much they’ve genuinely been misled and how much of this is them pretending to be shocked, shocked, to find there’s gambling going on in here. You know what the poll numbers look like on surveillance right now; they have every earthly reason to plead ignorance — at least until the next thwarted terror attack, when those poll numbers soften and they can go back to being out-and-proud surveillance-state hawks. In a test of credibility between Obama and Congress, how on earth do you decide?

Two things. First, obviously, Congress is going to have to build some sort of independent oversight arm to watch what the NSA is doing. The intelligence committees, which rely on what the president tells them, ain’t cutting it. There may be constitutional issues with a legislative agency devised to monitor the executive, but that’ll be worked out in court. (At the very least, if it gets that far, the president might be willing to compromise by increasing Congress’s role through other means.) The first order of business is to put political pressure on them to take this up by electing more civil-libertarian pols. Maybe the Rand Paul wing of the party is enough to do that, but I doubt it. You’ll need mainstream conservatives mobilized. Whatever else you think of Snowden, you can thank him for (probably) having moved the needle a bit there. Second, there … has to be some sort of penalty for lying serially to Congress, doesn’t there? At a minimum Clapper should be removed, just to make the point that deceiving the legislative branch on matters of national security (or on anything else) is a matter of grave consequence. Congress does have some institutional self-respect left, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Congress: How can we do oversight of NSA surveillance with Obama’s team continually lying to us?

Replace NSA surveillance with…

DOJ
IRS
EPA
Senate
State Department
Energy Department
Agricultural Department
Treasury
Interior
Commerce
Labor
Health and Human Services
Housing
Transportation
Education
Homeland Security
….the list is almost endless…what makes this one any different?

right2bright on July 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Have we seen anyone in this administration suffer any consequences for lying? If the media doesn’t hold administration officials accountable, Republicans in congress will get traction on their attempt to do so.

Aplombed on July 11, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Astonishingly I am more interested in Sharknado than Congress’ astonishingly astonished astonishment over Obama lying to them for what, the fifth year in a tow.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and a Sharknado will touch down in D.C.

Rode Werk on July 11, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Correction: will get little traction on their attempt to do so.

Aplombed on July 11, 2013 at 4:12 PM

But where in the world is Snowden and how did he get there..?

d1carter on July 11, 2013 at 4:13 PM

This Congress can’t even ferret out the two low level Cincinnati IRS employees…

d1carter on July 11, 2013 at 4:15 PM

The ‘blame Barack’ mantra sounds more and more like ‘blame Bush’. Isn’t way past time for Republicans to act like men and know what they as elected officials have the ability to do?

In other words, quit bitching and act.

madmonkphotog on July 11, 2013 at 4:18 PM

is a matter of grave consequence

Is it? I can’t think of a single act that has suffered a grave consequence in this administration. Not lying, not incompetence, not gross negligence, not misuse of taxpayer funds, not frittering away money on extravagant travel and conferences, nothing.

scalleywag on July 11, 2013 at 4:22 PM

It’s a simple answer! Read Them Their “Garrity Statement”! Look it up. It provides immunity from prosecution, while testifying on the record, during an internal investigation,so long as you don’t perjure yourself! If you perjure yourself, immunity is removed & everything you say can be used against you in court! This is not rocket science & any lawyer worth a SHIITE, would be using it!

Makes you wonder whether the RINOs in Congress, who can’t for the life of them, figure out how to deal with this, ever got a Law License! Or are they Colluding” Or are they being Blackmailed by the NSA? Take your pick, I don’t know which is worse!

#NOrinos2014 #CrushRove

http://www.paratisiusa.blogspot.com

God Bless America!

paratisi on July 11, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Of course WaPo maintains the myth that Clapper “lied” – it was a set-up by Wyden, who had already got the answer in closed session and knew fully well Clapper could not legally answer it truthfully in public. And if he refused to answer, everyone would assume even more was the case. A set-up.

How do you “lie” to someone you just told the full truth to?

Wyden is the bad guy here. Clapper was trying to keep official secrets secret – as the law requires. Wyden was trying to illegally expose secrets without getting his fingerprints on it, and succeeded with the aid of the press.

Including this as “lying to Congress” when Clapper had just finished telling them the truth behind closed doors undermines the entire case.

If you don’t view everything reported by WaPo with a skeptical eye, then perhaps the skeptical eye must be applied by us – to you.

Adjoran on July 11, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Meanwhile……………………

Report: Microsoft helped US intelligence access email, Skype and cloud storage, files show – @guardian

1 hour ago from http://www.guardian.co.uk by editor

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/11/microsoft-nsa-collaboration-user-data
============================

{Outlook.com encryption unlocked even before official launch}

Oh,not to sound PARANOID,about my wifes E-MAIL,
on OUTLOOK,..was HACKED,and the PASS-WORD WAS CHANGED!!

canopfor on July 11, 2013 at 4:27 PM

We need independent oversight arms with every branch of the federal government. Corruption is rampant.

mobydutch on July 11, 2013 at 4:29 PM

At a minimum Clapper should be removed, just to make the point that deceiving the legislative branch on matters of national security (or on anything else) is a matter of grave consequence.
===================================================

Resignation Baby,……

Clap on,…Clap off!

canopfor on July 11, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Congress: How can we do oversight of NSA surveillance with Obama’s team continually lying to us?

I’d say that’s a valid question for ALL of us.
How can ANY of us do our jobs or live our lives as the Constitution supposedly guarantees us under these circumstances?

dentarthurdent on July 11, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Congress: How can we do oversight of NSA surveillance with Obama’s team continually lying to us?

I have an answer to that: Just forget about the oversight and leave Obama’s team alone and don’t ask them anything. Then you won’t be annoyed at being lied to.

Its just that simple…..since y’all in Congress can’t or won’t do anything meaningful to Barry and his gang anyway.

Useless.

hawkeye54 on July 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM

**************** TransParency SCROTCHED ****************!!

canopfor on July 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Well, they could start by doing their jobs and IMPEACHING obama – his list of high crimes and misdemeanors against OUR nation is long and growing longer every day – but none one in Congress seems to care.

Pork-Chop on July 11, 2013 at 4:36 PM

(fix)

none one … no one …

Pork-Chop on July 11, 2013 at 4:37 PM

How can ANY of us do our jobs or live our lives as the Constitution supposedly guarantees us under these circumstances?

dentarthurdent on July 11, 2013 at 4:33 PM

No…and you simply must get over your infatuation with that old rag, The Constitution and its supposed guarantees. Its no longer relevant.

Put your trust, confidence and absolute loyalty in Barry and the DC gang.

That is what matters above all. That is what is relevant.

/SARC

hawkeye54 on July 11, 2013 at 4:37 PM

canopfor on July 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM

wow, 2 new words for me in one day. Scrotched and Micturate. must be Obama’s 2nd term…

kirkill on July 11, 2013 at 4:41 PM

There is one workable alternative. A NEW kind of leader must emerge. That individual must be strong and out spoken of ethnic background but neither “White” nor “Black”. Have a party affiliation for the sake of the election machinery but have a strong believe in the Constitution, and “We The People”. Anything less will further divide this country.

What we are seeing is symptoms of a government that has grown to large and is collapsing in on itself.

jpcpt03 on July 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM

I think it is long past time that the House cut off funding for the entire government until we get things sorted out…

Seven Percent Solution on July 11, 2013 at 4:44 PM

…are they Colluding? Or are they being Blackmailed by the NSA? Take your pick, I don’t know which is worse! paratisi on July 11, 2013 at 4:23 PM

The things Snowden supposedly revealed about the NSA have been reported on for over ten years, more or less regularly.

Knowing this, observing this affair is like listening to three people argue in Armenian. I know something’s going on, but have no idea what it’s all about.

I’m reminded of when Rumsfeld announced that he was going to put together a bureau of misinformation at the Pentagon.

There was predictable hue and cry.

Then the next day he issued a statement saying that he wasn’t going to put together a bureau of misinformation at the Pentagon.

I pretty much wet my pants ROTFLMAO.

Akzed on July 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

jpcpt03 on July 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM

My wife bought a t-shirt at a gun show that says -
We The People
HAVE HAD ENOUGH

dentarthurdent on July 11, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Then the next day he issued a statement saying that he wasn’t going to put together a bureau of misinformation at the Pentagon.

I pretty much wet my pants ROTFLMAO.

Akzed on July 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

But which type would that misinformation have been -
known knowns, known unknowns, or unknown unknowns?

dentarthurdent on July 11, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Congress: How can we do oversight of NSA surveillance with Obama’s team continually lying to us?

Simple.
Impeach the b@stard.

Of course the corrupt boys fraternity called the Senate won’t convict… But at least do YOUR d@mn Constitutional duty House rEpublicans..

LegendHasIt on July 11, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Everybody keep waiting for “The Great Awakening” to occur. “Republicans in the house need to act…” blah, blah, blah. How many times do you people have to be screwed over before you realize what’s happening? Battered wife syndrome anyone?

The republicans in the house are using the farm bill to get their goodies. They constantly “fail to act” when it comes to these hot button issues. Do they have to walk out hand in hand with Nanzi and Dirty Harry before you get it through your heads?

Now Allah is advocating congress come up with an independent watchdog group to keep an eye on what the NSA is doing. Yes, because if the government is anything, it is accountable to watchdog groups. Is there such a group that was supposed to watch the IRS?

There are some good men in congress, but nowhere near enough to make a difference and it would be a century before we could make any sort of meaningful change in the people who make up congress.

JAGonzo on July 11, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Think the NSA can find marine Col. George Bristol?

Jasper61 on July 11, 2013 at 5:14 PM

So, one one hand we have this…

On three occasions since 2009, top Justice Department officials…

and, on the other hand…

“The national security state has grown so that any administration is now not upfront with Congress,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)…

Let’s see, how many administrations have there been since 2009? …

KS Rex on July 11, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Hearings, jail time and for most of them, executions. Impeachment followed by immediate death penalties. That is how.

astonerii on July 11, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Think the NSA can find marine Col. George Bristol?

Jasper61 on July 11, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Think the NSA does not know where he is?

News2Use on July 11, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Hearings, jail time and for most of them, executions. Impeachment followed by immediate death penalties. That is how.

astonerii on July 11, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Sounds good to me, ’cause if we give ‘em more time to establish that wonderful utopia of theirs, that is what they’d have in mind and in store for many of us.

hawkeye54 on July 11, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Oh great. Congress now wants oversight of the NSA’s efforts to monitor our communications. Remember, it’s Congress that we’re talking about here. A legislative body that includes guys like Anthony Weiner — whose idea of electronic communication was to send out twitter photos of his erect schlong to college students that he had never met.

My collie says:

Hmmmm. Maybe we should protest by attaching copies of Weiner twitter photos to all of out electronic communications.

Not a good idea, collie. Besides, they’d probably LIKE that.

My collie says:

The NSA or Congress?

CyberCipher on July 11, 2013 at 5:47 PM

astonerii on July 11, 2013 at 5:27 PM

But who would hold the hearings?

JAGonzo on July 11, 2013 at 6:37 PM

But which type would that misinformation have been -
known knowns, known unknowns, or unknown unknowns?

dentarthurdent on July 11, 2013 at 4:50 PM

.

Let’s not forget about the unknown knowns. How much more private information has the government gathered that we don’t even know about yet?

RINO in Name Only on July 11, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Congress: How can we do oversight of NSA surveillance with Obama’s team continually lying to us?

I’d say that’s a valid question for ALL of us.
How can ANY of us do our jobs or live our lives as the Constitution supposedly guarantees us under these circumstances?

dentarthurdent on July 11, 2013 at 4:33 PM

I tell you three times;

The “social contract” only works if those charged with enforcing the laws, obey the laws.

Otherwise, you have tyranny.

We used to believe that we could run government on the honor system. And that someone who took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution would abide by that oath.

This is clearly no longer true.

If the republic is to survive, we need a new relationship between those serving in government and the citizenry at large. One which reminds those in government every second that they are civil servants, not civil masters.

The best way I know to do this is simple. Establish mandatory penalties for any offenses against the Constitution. Life imprisonment would be a good median choice. Have similar penalties for “procedural” offenses, such as those at the IRS.

And mandate that any such proceeding be a jury trial, not a panel of judges who may be personal friends of the defendant.

And oh yes, the trial must take place in a state capitol, not Washington. With a jury drawn from the local jury pool, and a judge who is also from the locality.

In fact, choose the capitol at random. Say, by drawing slips out of a bowl like the old draft lottery.

Imagine some supposed smart guy’s surprise when he finds out that his trial for malfeasance in office will take place in Casper, Wyoming, where he doesn’t “know” anybody.

Naturally, to avoid Fifth Amendment problems, all travel expenses, etc., will be borne by the Federal government. I would suggest a mark-off on the 1040EZ to donate $1 to the “Keep ‘Em Honest Fund”.

After all, it’s supposed to work for political campaigns.

clear ether

eon

eon on July 11, 2013 at 9:01 PM

Congress: How can we do oversight of NSA surveillance with Obama’s team continually lying to us?

Dump the NSA, and pass a law requiring every citizen over age 18 and who is not declared incompetent or a felon to own a worikng rifle, shotgun or pistol with at least 300 rounds of ammunition to fit the weapon, and that failure to comply will result in a tax penalty of $2,000 per individual.

Was that so hard?

ss396 on July 12, 2013 at 10:10 AM