Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald on Sunday chided the U.S. government for claiming it had provided "robust oversight" of the National Security Agency (NSA) even though members of Congress were forced to go to his paper to learn about secret programs that gather data on American citizens.
In an interview with ABC's Martha Raddatz, Greenwald pointed to his Sunday Guardian column that explains how "[m]embers of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the secret FISA court which authorizes its activities."
"We keep hearing that there's all kinds of robust oversight by Congress," Greenwald said, adding that lawmakers had provided "very detailed letters trying to get this information and they're being blocked from getting it and they've said, and other members have said that they are forced to learn about what the NSA is doing from what they're reading in our reporting."
"I think the most amazing thing, one of the most amazing things in this whole episode, Martha, there is a 2011 opinion, 86 pages long from the FISA court, that ruled that much of what the NSA is doing which is spying on American citizens is both unconstitutional in violation of the Fourth Amendment and illegal, a violation of the statute," he continued. "This opinion remains a complete secret. The FISA court has said they have no objection to having it released, but the Obama administration insists it has to be secret."
"Both members of Congress and others have been requesting simply to read that court opinion. And the intelligence committee that is led in the House by Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), who represents the NSA district, receives all kinds cash from the defense and intelligence agencies, industries, have refused to allow them access."
UPDATED: John Amato:
Glenn Greenwald reported that Rep. Alan Grayson and Rep. Morgan Griffith have been unsuccessful in trying to obtain information about the NSA programs that they need so they can accurately vote on them.
Two House members, GOP Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia andDemocratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, have provided the Guardian with numerous letters and emails documenting their persistent, and unsuccessful, efforts to learn about NSA programs and relevant FISA court rulings.
"If I can't get basic information about these programs, then I'm not able to do my job", Rep. Griffith told me. A practicing lawyer before being elected to Congress, he said that his job includes "making decisions about whether these programs should be funded, but also an oath to safeguard the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which includes the Fourth Amendment."
Rep. Griffith requested information about the NSA from the House Intelligence Committee six weeks ago, on June 25. He asked for "access to the classified FISA court order(s) referenced on Meet the Press this past weekend": a reference to my raising with host David Gregory thestill-secret 2011 86-page ruling from the FISA court that found substantial parts of NSA domestic spying to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment as well as governing surveillance statutes.
In that same June 25 letter, Rep. Griffith also requested the semi-annual FISC "reviews and critiques" of the NSA. He stated the rationale for his request: "I took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, and I intend to do so."