“Your leadership in NSA has been outstanding,” added Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), the committee’s ranking Democrat.
Only his spymaster’s cool kept Alexander from blushing. “Thank you for the kind words,” he replied. “As you noted, we have extraordinary people doing great work.”
The hearing was really a pep rally, as lawmakers praised the officials involved in the surveillance programs and then yielded the floor for an hour so the officials could make statements about how responsible and restrained they’ve been. The congressional overseers of the intelligence agencies quite clearly are captivated by — if not captives of — the people they are supposed to be supervising…
While there’s bipartisan consensus that the programs are valuable, it’s a mystery why more lawmakers don’t question the intelligence officials’ just-trust-us assurances. After all, only three months ago, Clapper publicly assured Congress that such programs didn’t exist.