Obama Administration Held 22 Meetings with Congress on NSA Program


Obama administration officials held 22 separate briefings or meetings for members of Congress on the law that has been used to justify the National Security Agency’s controversial email monitoring program, according to data provided by a senior administration official.

According to the official, the sessions that took place over the course of 14 months starting in October 2011 touched on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, which gives the attorney general and director of national intelligence the authority to gather intelligence on non-U.S. citizens for up to one year. Section 702 has been cited by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as the legal basis for the NSA’s PRISM program, which has allowed the government to track email communication data.

The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed the existence of the PRISM program and another data-monitoring action last week. In defending PRISM from criticism, Clapper stated that U.S. citizens were not, and are not, targeted for the data dragnet. He and others have also insisted that Congress has had ample opportunity to review the program and provide feedback.

To buttress that claim, the senior administration official — discussing the matter only on condition of anonymity — sent over the following list of meetings and briefings that took place.

10/19/11: Meeting with Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Staff
1/10/12: House Judiciary Committee Staff Briefings (majority and minority separately briefed)
1/11/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefings (majority and minority separately briefed)
3/5/12: Meeting with Nancy Pelosi
3/8/12: Meeting with Harry Reid Staff
3/15/12: Law Briefing for Senate Judiciary Committee staff
3/15/12: Briefing for Senate Leadership Staff
3/21/12: Meeting with Mitch McConnell Staff
3/23/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefing at NSA
3/27/12: Meeting with Jim Langevin
3/28/12: Meeting with Jan Schakowsky
3/29/12: Thompson Meeting*
3/29/12: Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall Meeting
4/10/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefing (in Virginia)
4/20/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefing at FBI
5/4/12: Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Briefing
5/31/12: House Judiciary Committee FAA Hearing (unclassified)
6/7/12: House Judiciary Committee MEMBER Briefing (classified)
6/11/12: Meeting with Patrick Leahy Staff
6/21/12: House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Hearing (classified)
7/18/12: Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse/Richard Blumenthal Meeting
12/10/12: Akaka Meeting
* The Washington Post reported the meeting as with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).

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