So if he makes up straw men about “not listening in on our phone calls”, then lies straight to our faces, claiming we should trust the process because our representatives all signed off on it, where does that leave us, when it is shown to be a lie? Back to the drawing board, Dear Leader, it’s not working well for you…
President Barack Obama’s chief defense of his administration’s wide-ranging data-gathering programs Friday: Congress authorized them, with “every member” well aware of the details.
Not so, say many members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike.
Typically, members of Congress “don’t receive this kind of briefing,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told POLITICO Friday. They wouldn’t have known about the programs unless they were on an intelligence committee, attended special sessions last held in 2011 or specifically asked to be briefed – something they would only know to do if they were clued in by an colleague who was already aware.
Durbin said he learned about the two programs himself only after requesting a briefing under “classified circumstances” after being urged to do so by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Congressional leadership and intelligence committees had access to information about the programs, he said — but the “average member” of Congress likely wouldn’t have been aware of the breadth of the telephone and Internet surveillance.
There’s no public record of who has attended any of these sessions — and even the Obama administration couldn’t confirm the president’s claim that “every member of Congress” had been briefed.
The White House declined to comment for this story.
And Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) told POLITICO that the classified intelligence briefing sessions he’s attended haven’t disclosed details on the two data-gathering programs as were unveiled this week.
Schock, in Congress since 2009, said he had “no idea” about the phone data gathering, or any briefings for House members to discuss it, until news reports this week.
Like other members who said they learned of the data-gathering efforts when they were revealed in the Guardian and the Washington Post, Schock said the administration classified briefings he’s attended have revealed very little information.
“I can assure you the phone number tracking of non-criminal, non-terrorist suspects was not discussed,” he said. “Most members have stopped going to their classified briefings because they rarely tell us anything we don’t already know in the news. It really has become a charade.”