Democrats Object to NSA Playing Politics

The Washington Post reports on the fight in Congress over the NSA’s use of warrantless wiretaps:

Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee are complaining that the National Security Agency has played politics in support of the secret program to intercept phone calls between alleged terrorists in the United States and abroad.

On July 27, shortly after most members of the committee were briefed on the controversial surveillance program, the NSA supplied the panel’s chairman, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), with “a set of administration approved, unclassified talking points for the members to use,” as described in the document.

It is understandable that the Republicans misunderstood. They are accustomed to having all those right wing politicians, pundits, and even bloggers recite whatever talking points they distribute. They are also accustomed to governing as if they were the only party in Congress. It is no surprise that they just forgot that there are Democrats in Congress who would be unwilling to stick to their talking points. What might be even more of a shock is that those Democrats also expect to exercise some oversight:

One element particularly troubling to the Democrats was the statement that there was “strict” congressional oversight of the program, because, as one senior Democrat said yesterday, committee members are still awaiting requested documents such as the original authorization by President Bush that initiated the program.

In a recent letter to Rockefeller, Alexander said he regretted that the NSA talking points were “misperceived as political.” Rockefeller is planning to expand on the Democrats’ concerns about their attempts to conduct oversight on the program in a speech today on the Senate floor.

Related Stories:

Republicans Attempt Retroactive Legalization of Warrantless Wiretapping
ACLU Rebukes Judiciary Committee on NSA Wiretaps

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  1. 1
    Dosp says:

    The NSA program has been around for over 40 years. It’s funny that Rockefeller would be concerned about a program they have practiced over sight on. It is possible they were not doing enough oversight or Rockefeller has gone with Shays and the others who got the 18 month timeline on the pullout of Iraq. The memos are probably standard. NSA has been dealing with the intelligence committee for over 40 years.

    The CIA analysts are now moving over to CIA/NSA from CIA. This may have something to do with the changes in oversight. It is really unclear as to why Rockefeller is complaining about something the intelligence committee has been working with for over forty years; unless it is political or has to do with the changes at CIA to NSA/DIA that came about form the first complaint to the intelligence committee about the NSA. It’s possible that the complaint came from someone using the assetts from, for example, CIA. This became the political probelm and it has not been addressed as to who complained or why.

  2. 2
    ME says:


    The article is talking about the NSA surveilance program, not the NSA itself.

    The details are classified, but the NSA program in question probably didn’t exist before 9/11. The democrats objections are valid…they were never proplery briefed, despite the statements of republicans saying otherwise.

    I know, I know. What a shock. Republicans lying about an unconstitutional program in an effort to convince the public to willingly hand over their civil liberties.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:


    Right, we are really shocked about the Republicans lying. Besides that being typical, Dosp’s response is also typical. Distract from the real issue with a bunch of nonsense which doesn’t address the problem.

  4. 4
    kj says:

    I sort of thought Dosp’s point could be answered with the quote in the article above:

    “…as one senior Democrat said yesterday, committee members are still awaiting requested documents such as the original authorization by President Bush that initiated the program.”

    but then what do I know, I’m just a liberal.

  5. 5
    clearthought says:

    ME? “willingly hand over their civil liberties” when people cannot be educated about the issue because Bush is playing politics with his rheric on national security? The people son’t know who to believe when the Neocons are saying if you don’t want another 9/11, stay with our ideology, and the press is being slammed by the government for doing its job!

    Oops… I should have posted that all on my blog before I did here…

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