TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

House committee withheld letter on telephone data collection

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Washington Post
Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — A letter drafted by the Obama administration specifically to inform Congress of the government's mass collection of Americans' telephone communications data was withheld from lawmakers by leaders of the House Intelligence Committee in the months before a key vote affecting the future of the program.

The February 2011 document was declassified last month and has been cited repeatedly by administration officials and legislative leaders as evidence that the surveillance program had been properly examined by Congress as part of an aggressive system of checks and balances.

A cover letter to the House and Senate intelligence committees that was sent with the document asked the leaders of each panel to share the written material with all members of Congress.

Ronald Weich, who was an assistant attorney general at the time, wrote that making the material available to Congress would be an “effective way to inform the legislative debate about reauthorization” of the provision of the Patriot Act that served as the legal basis for the phone surveillance.

But the House Intelligence Committee opted against making the 2011 document widely available. Instead, the committee invited all 435 House members to attend classified briefings where the program was discussed —briefings that critics say were vague and uninformative.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., who has emerged as a leading critic of the National Security Agency program, said he and dozens of other members elected in 2010 did not have access to the information they needed to fully understand the program until the leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Obama defends work of Secret Service
  2. 3 missing Afghan soldiers captured at border with Canada
  3. White House breach ‘a cry out for help,’ alleged intruder’s ex-wife says
  4. ‘Lion King’ breaks box office record
  5. 32 structures destroyed in California’s King wildfire
  6. Dog gone for 4 months found 3,000 miles from home
  7. FBI, federal marshals join manhunt for survivalist accused of ambushing troopers
  8. U.S., Canadian jets intercept 8 Russian aircraft
  9. Ticks reduce moose population in northern states
  10. Hurricane shattered Charleston, S.C., tested mayor 25 years ago
  11. Beads in beauty products called toxin
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.