Hearing on NSA Surveillance Little More than Love Fest

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Hearing on NSA Surveillance Little More than Love Fest

At a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, chairman Mike Rogers threw softballs to NSA chief General Keith Alexander.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is not monitoring phone calls of European citizens, no matter what its own slides and journalists say to the contrary.

That is the shorter version of testimony given by NSA chief General Keith Alexander during a hearing October 29 before the House Intelligence Committee, to determine potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The House Intelligence Committee is headed by one of the most outspoken and enthusiastic cheerleaders for the surveillance state, Representative Mike Rogers (shown, R-Mich.). Rogers’ rah-rah attitude about the government’s massive accumulation of data on Americans (and now, apparently, citizens of many other countries) is notorious.

Earlier this month at a cybersecurity conference sponsored by the Washington Post, former NSA Director Michael Hayden made a crack about adding Edward Snowden’s name to a kill list.

In a story from The Hill covering the conference, Brendan Sasso reported that after Hayden’s tasteless joke:

The audience laughed, and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was also on the panel, responded, "I can help you with that."

Let that sink in. A sitting member of Congress is bragging about having the power to add the name of an American citizen to a list of people targeted for assassination by the federal government. Today, it's Edward Snowden; tomorrow, who knows?

Rogers could not be keener on chucking in to help construct the Panopticon, placing all Americans and indeed all people around the globe under the never-blinking eye of the federal government.

In a July 2013 statement issued by Rogers and ranking committee member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Rogers called for a “robust dialogue” with regard to preserving the NSA’s power to abridge fundamental civil liberties in the name of thwarting terrorist attacks. Rogers attacked what he called the “premature reactions” to the abuses revealed in Snowden’s leaks.

During questioning at Tuesday’s hearing, Rogers began by asking Alexander to comment on the reports published by several newspapers at home and abroad regarding slides leaked by Edward Snowden detailing the Boundless Informant program that seemed to point to the agency’s surveillance of foreign citizens. The exchange hardly met the “robust dialogue” standard set out by Rogers in his joint statement issued in July. 

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Photo of Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) at the Oct. 29 House Intelligence Committee hearing: AP Images

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