“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott
by Helen Tansey
Did Mike Rogers, Republican Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), act alone when deciding to withhold critical information about NSA’s bulk collection of American’s phone records from the 2011 incoming class of members of congress prior to their vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act? Was the entirety of the Republican House leadership in on the decision? It sure looks that way.
Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian is reporting –
The leadership of the House intelligence committee is under growing pressure to explain whether it withheld surveillance information from members of Congress before a key vote to renew the Patriot Act.
A Republican congressman and government ethics watchdogs are demanding that the powerful panel’s chairman, Mike Rogers of Michigan, responds to charges that the panel’s leadership failed to share a document prepared by the justice department and intelligence community.
The document was explicitly created to inform non-committee members about bulk collection of Americans’ phone records ahead of the vote in 2011. Michigan Republican Justin Amash alleged that the committee kept it from non-committee members – the majority of the House.
The accusations broaden the focus of the surveillance controversy from the National Security Agency to one of the congressional committees charged with exercising oversight of it – and the panel’s closeness to the NSA it is supposed to oversee.
Amash told the Guardian on Monday that he had confirmed with the House intelligence committee that the committee did not make non-committee members aware of the classified overview from 2011 of the bulk phone records collection program first revealed by the Guardian thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden. The document was expressly designed to be shared with legislators who did not serve on the panel; it appears that a corresponding document for the Senate in 2011 was made available to all senators.
“Nobody I’ve spoken to in my legislative class remembers seeing any such document,” Amash said.
Amash speculated that the House intelligence committee withheld the document in order to ensure the Patriot Act would win congressional reauthorization, as it ultimately did.
Marcy Wheeler over at emptywheel reported”most of the 93 members elected in 2010 — got no notice. While the Administration provided House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers with a description of the program, he appears not to have invited all members of the House to read it, as Dianne Feinstein invited all members of the Senate to do. (emphasis and link to DOJ’s notice added).” Wheeler took another look at the vote count and by her calculations “65 of those yes votes were freshmen who had never had opportunity to learn about the dragnet.”
This claim is stunning! Imagine if you were any one of these 65 freshmen who got elected to go to Washington to represent the People rather than the Party and their corrupted ‘business as usual’ modus operandi. Naturally these new members would have placed their trust in their majorities/minorities leadership to prepare and educate them on the nuances of pending legislation; especially the re authorization of the Patriot Act. But to now learn that that trust was sorely misplaced on such a grand scale is well, unfathomable.
Remember, the majority of the 2011 Republican Class ran on a platform to honor the constitution and to change the culture of ‘business as usual’ back to representing We the People. They were eager to work from the inside to change the Republicans direction from selling their souls to the highest bidder to respecting the rule of law and We the People.
It’s unimaginable the depth of the betrayal many of these 93 freshmen must have experienced when first realizing, along with the rest of us, just how vast the NSA surveillance powers had grown knowing they unwittingly voted not only to maintain the dragnet but to expand it. Talk about being played! Brutal.
This is the kind of breech of trust one is unable to over come. What is unnerving is the fact that none of these 93 freshmen would have ever have known they even voted in support of these massive powers congress has given to the NSA had it not been for Snowden blowing the whistle and Greenwald/Poitras doing the heavy lifting by reporting on it. Had it not been for these individuals willingness to put everything they have on the line these 65 and potentially 93 members would more than likely still be in the dark along with the rest of us Americans.
We are just now only witnessing the entirety of this extreme breech of trust and the cowardliness of the Republican House leadership, but trust we haven’t seen the last of it.
The good news is these freshman aren’t kowtowing. Rather, they are leading with Justin Amash from Michigan and Morgan Griffith from Virginia being at the forefront by setting the record straight. I’m thinking We the People need to get behind these two gentlemen so as to help them do what they were sent to Washington to do – get back to the business of representing We the People and respecting the rule of law, the United States Constitution.
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