Embroiled in controversy for their government surveillance program, some lawmakers had to be ready to counteract the heat and defend the program fast. Now, The Huffington Post has obtained documents detailing the talking points for doing just that.
The Huffington Post breaks down the talking points from the House Intelligence Committee given out to members of Congress, which originated from the Democratic side of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
"The talking points are divided into two documents, one dedicated to a program that allows the U.S. government to collect the phone call records of all American citizens, including the telephone numbers involved and length of calls. The other document is dedicated [to] a program that collects mass metadata on Internet activities, including email, that relate to matters the NSA deems a foreign threat to the United States."
It continues, "Both documents assert that the programs are not secret. But the programs have alarmed Americans because most citizens were unaware of their existence prior to the recent articles, and the programs were authorised by a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose rulings are, in fact, secret."
Next up, the talking points regarding the Internet program are discussed. Here's an excerpt on how they're told to defend it:
"Section 702 is a vital legal tool that Congress reauthorized in December 2012, as part of the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act, after extensive hearings and debate. Under Section 702, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) certifies foreign intelligence collection. There is no secret program involved -- it is strictly authorized by a U.S. statute."
An excerpt from the phone record talking points says:
"The news articles have been discussing what purports to be a classified, lawfully-authorized order that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) issued under an Act of Congress -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Under this Act, the FISA Court authorized a collection of business records. There is no secret program involved here -- it is strictly authorized by a U.S. statute."
According to a staff member for Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), who is a ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, condensed documents were put together due to some members of Congress being confused by media reports.
As for the entire documents, they are only two pages in length combined. For the PDF file of the complete talking points on the phone records, click here. For the PDF file on the internet talking points, click here.