Towards the end of my piece this morning about the administration’s ridiculous response to the leaked evidence and confirmation that the NSA is scooping up every single phone record (confirmed from Verizon at least, though you can assume it applies to everyone else as well) was a quick note mentioning that Senator Dianne Feinstein was saying that this was a continuation of the same program that had been going on for seven years. And, now, lots of Senators are coming out and saying the same thing. In fact, it appears that our 100 Senators all knew that this has been going on for seven years without telling us…
“Everyone’s been aware of it for years, every member of the Senate,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Chambliss told reporters that the program has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He said he was not aware of a single citizen filing a complaint about it.
I love that last bit. Yes, since no citizens “complained” about the totally secret program in which their private data was sucked up by the NSA, what’s there to worry about? Senator Harry Reid’s response is equally ridiculous, suggesting that everyone should calm down because this is nothing new:
“Right now I think everyone should just calm down and understand that this isn’t anything that’s brand new — it’s been going on for 7 years,” Reid said.
Again, it’s astounding how out of touch these people are. They’re pretending that a secret program that went way, way, way beyond what most people believed was happening now being revealed is no big deal because they knew about it for seven years? Frankly, that makes the whole situation that much worse, because it means they supported it and did nothing to end it for seven years.
I know that Senators Ron Wyden and Marc Udall have been trying to get this fact out to the public for years — demanding that the NSA say how many Americans they were spying on. It was obvious that Wyden and Udall knew what was going on, but couldn’t say anything since such information is “classified.” But shame on every other Senator for not standing up against this.
Some are arguing that they didn’t know:
“If you’re on the intel committee, or if you’re in leadership, you might have been briefed. I’m pretty good about attending meetings; I don’t remember being briefed,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). He said he voted for the FISA reauthorization and the Patriot Act but did not intend to grant authority to collect millions of phone records at a time.
“I never voted intentionally for any bill that would grant blanket [authority] to just monitor every phone call,” he said.
But that’s a lame excuse as well, because Senator Wyden spent an awful lot of time making this very point on the Senate floor, pointing out that very clearly that the NSA was using FISA to spy on tons of Americans (hinting strongly that it was all of them) and saying that the Senate shouldn’t approve the reauthorization until the NSA told them how many people were being spied on. If Senator Isakson didn’t pay attention to Senator Wyden ringing the alarm bell, that’s his own fault.
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