After Lying in a Closed Surveillance Briefing in 2011, Intelligence Community Plans Another Closed Briefing

On May 18, 2011, 48 members of the House (mostly Republicans, but also including MI’s Hansen Clarke) attended a closed briefing given by FBI Director Robert Mueller and General Counsel Valerie Caproni on the USA PATRIOT Act authorities up for reauthorization. The hearing would serve as the sole opportunity for newly elected members to learn about the phone and Internet dragnets conducted under the PATRIOT Act, given Mike Rogers’ decision not to distribute the letter provided by DOJ to inform members on the secret dragnets they were about to reauthorize.

During the hearing, someone asked,

Russ Feingold said that Section 215 authorities have been abused. How does the FBI respond to that accusation?

One of the briefers — the summary released under FOIA does not say who — responded,

To the FBI’s knowledge, those authorities have not been abused.

As a reminder, hearing witness Robert Mueller had to write and sign a declaration for the FISC two years earlier to justify resuming full authorization for the phone dragnet because, as Judge Reggie Walton had discovered, the NSA had conducted “daily violations of the minimization procedures” for over two years. “The minimization procedures proposed by the government in each successive application and approved and adopted as binding by the orders of the FISC have been so frequently and systemically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall BR regime has never functioned effectively,” Walton wrote in March 2009.

Now, I can imagine that whichever FBI witness claimed the FBI didn’t know about any “abuses” rationalized the answer to him or herself using the same claim the government has repeatedly made — that these were not willful abuses. But Walton stated then — and more evidence released since has made clear he was right since — that the government simply chose to subject the vast amount of US person data collected under the PATRIOT Act to EO 12333 standards, not more stringent PATRIOT Act ones. That is, the NSA, operating under FBI authorizations, made a willful choice to ignore the minimization procedures imposed by the 2006 reauthorization of the Act.

Whoever answered that question in 2011 lied, and lied all the more egregiously given that the questioner had no way of phrasing it to get an honest answer about violations of minimization procedures.

Which is why the House Judiciary Committee should pointedly refuse to permit the Intelligence Committee to conduct another such closed briefing, as they plan to do on Section 702 on February 2. Holding a hearing in secret permits the IC to lie to Congress, not to mention disinform some members in a venue where their colleagues can not correct the record (as Feingold might have done in 2011 had he learned what the FBI witnesses said in that briefing).

I mean, maybe HJC Chair Bob Goodlatte wants to be lied to? Otherwise, there’s no sound explanation for scheduling this entire hearing in closed session.

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

6 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    “I mean, maybe HJC Chair Bob Goodlatte wants to be lied to? Otherwise, there’s no sound explanation for scheduling this entire hearing in closed session.” I think you’ve got it there. Like they’re married, or something.

  2. bevin says:

    If you are going to be humiliated, toyed with and insulted, it is natural that the victim should wish the experience to be private.

    When the said victim intends to run for re-election, as a ruler of the most powerful country on earth, it is quite understandable that he will wish to shield the voters from the stark fact that neither he nor they are of the tiniest importance in the great scheme of political things.

    Would anyone want it otherwise? Does anyone enjoy watching these people lick-on behalf of the American People- any footwear held up to their tongues by the bosses of the police state?

  3. martin says:

    “That is, the NSA, operating under FBI authorizations, made a willful choice to ignore the minimization procedures imposed by the 2006 reauthorization of the Act.”

    Let’s get this shit straight right now. When are you going to finally get it, this is a government that will incinerate 82, American MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN in cold fucking blood in Waco, Texas, shoot a mother and her baby in cold blood at Ruby Ridge, invade and destroy a host of sovereign nations based on lies, obfuscation, secrecy and corporate demand, torture and murder human beings with impunity at black sites all over the world, build and maintain a torture chamber/prison in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, whereby a hundred+ human beings were detained and tortured for over 10 years all the while pretending the purpose was to “prosecute” them when no charges were ever filed, vaporize thousands of innocent men, women and children via Drone delivered Hellfire missiles… among hundreds of other insidiously nauseating crimes this legal imperialism known as the US government, have perpetrated in the last 50 yrs +… and you’re pointing out…. it lies?????

    With all due respect.. fucking spare me.

    • P J Evans says:

      Your Waco must have been in a different universe from mine. Mine involved a cult leader who was abusing girls and women, and wanted to die in a blaze of glory.

  4. JamesJoyce says:

    I would not believe anything these folks say…

    They have been deceiving and lying to America for generations. They cannot be trusted, ever.

    http://youtu.be/Lj0ellsyaT8

    For those who recall this exchange, it is not easily forgotten.

    It was clear there was no longer any accountability to civil authority.

    For those ignorant of this exchange and historical reality, bend over and smile…

    Deja Vu….

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