It’s a matter of priorities

17 Jun

emty_hearing-sizedLast week was an interesting one.

Way too many members of Congress were bitching they didn’t know about the NSA’s collecting intelligence information, while the NSA said it held many briefings on the subject.

Who’s fibbing?

Maybe those Congressional members.

Let’s try this on and see how it fits.

Last week the NSA set up a briefing by senior intelligence officials on surveillance programs.

Fewer than half of the Senate showed up.

It seems it was more important to them to leave Washington early Thursday afternoon instead of sticking around and finding out what’s going on.

Here’s what happened:   The Senate held its last vote of the week a little after noon on Thursday, and many Senators wanted to take advantage of the short day and head back to their home states for Father’s Day weekend.

Only 47 of 100 senators attended the briefing, leaving dozens of chairs in the secure meeting room empty as big shots from the Intelligence community briefed those there classified programs to monitor millions of telephone calls and a lot of the of the Internet.

The sparse turnout pissed off Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, who spent a tough week answering colleagues’ and media questions about the program.

“It’s hard to get this story out. Even now we have this big briefing — we’ve got Alexander, we’ve got the FBI, we’ve got the Justice Department, we have the FISA Court there, we have Clapper there — and people are leaving.”

See why we shake our heads?

Politicians have been demanding more congressional oversight of the phone and Internet monitoring programs, but it seems they have also been unwilling to skip flights or make other scheduling sacrifices to learn more of the secret details.

The truth is intelligence members always come in at the end and as a result they take as gospel the assessments that they receive from the intelligence community.

So then they often vote to approve the intelligence programs with only a vague idea of what they’re authorizing.

This goes for just about anything.

Disputes between senior intelligence officials and members of Congress over who was told what, when, have been going on for years.

Maybe this is one reason why.

PHOTO: Just something generic

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