Trump slams Liz Cheney’s move to focus Jan. 6 committee report on him and Cheney as “a complete sham” that’s “a total gift” to John Murtha.
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency’s controversial warrantless wiretap program may have been set up to look a little too similar to the infamous domestic spying program run by Bush-era counterterrorism chief, John Brennan.
That’s the suspicion that Democratic Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, held about the Jan. 6 report on warrantless surveillance by the House and Senate intelligence committees.
The key word in the title is “surveillance,” not “wiretaps,” and the report details how the NSA gathers millions of phone call records under the FISA Amendments Act, but adds no new information. The Senate, too, made only one notable change, adding two paragraphs of declassified classified information about how the warrantless program actually works.
The House report does, however, discuss the fact that there have been several instances of Congress being lied to about the program by administration officials.
“The facts are clear: NSA is collecting tens of millions of telephone records under the guise of a purely domestic surveillance program,” Conyers said in a statement. “The administration’s claims to the contrary are a complete sham. As the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I know firsthand that NSA spying on Americans has been a matter of debate for many years, but the administration never produced the most basic public evidence in a way that allowed us to evaluate.”
In a new interview, Conyers suggested that the Intelligence Committee’s handling of the NSA program amounts to partisan kabuki theater and a “gift” to the Pennsylvania Democrat from the Intelligence Committee.
“The Intelligence Committee doesn’t have the same rules, and when things are done and things are classified, they’re given a free pass,” Conyers said. “It’s not a gift to me, either, because when you see a gift, it’s not a free pass, and it’s not a free pass all the time.”
The National Security Agency’s secret, warrantless wiretapping program, also known as the “metadata” collection, is one of the NSA’s most controversial and least discussed programs.
The program was not authorized by Congress when it was launched in 2001, and was classified for years. The NSA was forced to declassify key details about the program after Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.,