“When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program,” Obama said. “With respect to all these programs, the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs.”
According to Merkley, he wasn’t briefed on anything. If I understand him correctly, he’s claiming that he knew in vague terms that NSA was sweeping up lots of data but (a) he discovered the breadth of the phone-records data-mining only because he sought out details on that and (b) he had no idea whatsoever about PRISM. (He’s not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, though.) Why is PRISM, which seems to be far more intrusive than the phone-records program, being hidden from rank-and-file congressmen if the telephone data-mining isn’t? And why wasn’t Merkley briefed even on the phone-records harvesting? It’s hard to sell a “trust your government” argument when senators with civil-liberties concerns are being kept in the dark. Obama lied, NSA spied?
You need to watch to the end of the clip for all of the above but there’s a middle section on an unrelated topic that you can skip through. Oh, and if you feel insufficiently depressed by the last 36 hours, read this. It’ll straighten you right out.
Update: If the last link doesn’t straighten you out, this will. When Carl Levin asked the Pentagon last month for a list of Al Qaeda associates, they promised they’d provide one — with the stipulation that it’ll remain classified. As Doyle McManus notes, the public no longer has a right to know who its enemies are.