Number of Non-Intel-Committee Congressmen Who Examine NSA Programs: ‘Zero’
Bart Gellman, the journalist who revealed some of the NSA’s surveilance operations in the Washington Post recently, detailed how members of Congress go about monitoring the NSA’s classified operations: They don’t.
Since the programs are classified, Gellman said, very few members of Congress — essentially none, he said, who aren’t on the intelligence committees — have staffers with “who are cleared to know anything” about the NSA program. So, he said, “there’s a locked room on Capitol Hill where a member can go in there and spend a week, sitting in there reading through unbelievably complicated and voluminous reports about how [intelligence agencies] are doing what they’re doing, and the number of members who do that is zero.”
Later in the program, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan offered a gentler characterization: “Congress,” she said, “their oversight ability is not so great.”