Throughout the domestic spying scandal I’ve grumbled that if congress had carried out their oversight duties correctly we wouldn’t be looking at the current NSA mess, but would have had a smaller scandal a decade ago and cleaned it up. Now we learn that the House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers concealed a document meant for all members of the House talking about the NSA’s activities before the vote on renewing the Patriot Act. The Senate, on the other hand, received the classified briefing meant for those not on the Intelligence committee.
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.
So now we have a multifold scandal involving failure of congressional oversight.
1. The chairman and ranking member withheld documents meant to brief the House.
2. The members of the House Intelligence Committee knew about domestic spying but did not alert the public.
3. The members of the House Intelligence Committee knew about domestic spying and voted for the Patriot Act in 2011.
4. The members of the Senate received a document briefing them on domestic spying but a did not call hearings at the time or alert the public.
5. The members of the Senate received a document briefing them on domestic spying but a majority voted to renew the Patriot Act anyway.
Cleaning out a lot of members of congress from both parties is long overdue.