Sen. Corker to Obama: Senate Needs ‘Full Briefing’ on NSA Surveillance
(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is calling on President Obama to provide senators with a “full briefing” on the National Security Administration’s (NSA) domestic surveillance activities.
“Members of Congress regularly read new revelations on the front pages of various newspapers,” Corker wrote in a letter he sent to Obama Wednesday, adding that they “are left to wonder why these prior briefings . . . did not cover the material contained in these articles.”
Corker asked that the Senate be briefed by NSA Director Keith Alexander on the “totality” of the NSA’s activities “no later than Friday, September 13” in light of documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden that show the NSA may have been involved in thousands of illegal privacy violations as it collected massive amounts of data on Americans without a court order.
An aide to Corker told CNSNews.com on Thursday that the White House has not yet responded to the senator's letter asking administration officials to “discuss the totality of NSA operations,” including those covered under the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and modified by the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act, and Executive Order 12333.”
An internal audit leaked by Snowden reveals that the NSA “exceeded its legal authority every year since Congress granted it broad new powers in 2008” with the “unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications,” in addition to instructions that NSA employees provide less detailed information in reports to the administration.
Corker also noted that members of Congress have received only incomplete classified briefings after media disclosures regarding domestic spying.
“I am deeply concerned... that these briefings and declassification efforts... have generally been limited to simply discussing the facts underlying specific public disclosures and have not provided a fulsome accounting of the totality of surveillance activities conducted by the federal government, and in particular, by the NSA.”
Corker stressed the need for the Obama administration to “explain why these collections and activities are necessary to protect national security, how the collections and activities are conducted, what the collection information is used for, how the collected information is stored, who has access to it and under what conditions, and whether and what restrictions apply to the government’s use of the collected information once it is accessed.”
Corker sent a similar letter to Obama in June in response to revelations that the NSA was collecting Verizon customers’ phone records. “The collection of this massive amount of detailed information about the communications of American citizens raises extremely serious concerns,” he said.