Intelligence committee withheld key file before critical NSA vote, Amash claims

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Here’s why things get passed by Congress that they later regret….From Representative Justin Amash:

I voted no on reauthorization of the Patriot Act in 2011. Many of my colleagues who voted yes now regret their votes in light of the recent disclosures. It’s not acceptable for the House Intelligence Committee, or any other committee, to withhold critically important information pertaining to a program prior to the vote.

 

Justin Amash

Justin Amash said: ‘It is not acceptable for the intelligence committee, or any other committee, to withhold critically important information.’ Photo: J Scott Applewhite/AP

A leader of the US congressional insurrection against the National Security Agency’s bulk surveillance programs has accused his colleagues of withholding a key document from the House of Representatives before a critical surveillance vote.

Justin Amash, the Michigan Republican whose effort to defund the NSA‘s mass phone-records collection exposed deep congressional discomfort with domestic spying, said the House intelligence committee never allowed legislators outside the panel to see a 2011 document that described the surveillance in vague terms.

The document, a classified summary of the bulk phone records collection effort justified under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, was declassified by the Obama administration in late July.

The Justice Department and intelligence agencies prepared it for Congress before a 2011 vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act, and left it for the intelligence committees in Congress to make the document available to their colleagues.

“It is not acceptable for the intelligence committee, or any other committee, to withhold critically important information pertaining to a program prior to the vote,” Amash told the Guardian.

While the document does not go into great detail about the program, first revealed by the Guardian through documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, it does tell legislators that NSA is collecting phone records in “bulk” from Americans. The Obama administration and intelligence agencies have pointed to the availability of the document as an example of keeping Congress fully informed about controversial NSA surveillance.

“We believe that making this document available to all members of Congress, as we did with a similar document in December 2009, is an effective way to inform the legislative debate about the reauthorization of Section 215,” assistant attorney general Ronald Weich wrote to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House intelligence committee on February 2 2011. The hundreds of members of Congress who did not serve on the intelligence committee were to be told they could read the document in a secured facility.

But Amash claimed on his Facebook page that never happened.

“I can now confirm that the House permanent select committee on intelligence did not, in fact, make the 2011 document available to representatives in Congress,” Amash wrote late Sunday, “meaning that the large class of representatives elected in 2010 did not receive either of the now declassified documents detailing these programs.”

A spokeswoman for the House intelligence committee, Susan Phelan, did not return a message from the Guardian on Monday. The committee staff said only Phelan was authorized to address the press.

But one of Amash’s Democratic colleagues, a former member of the House intelligence committee, backed Amash’s claim.

“I was not aware of the document,” Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, told the Guardian.

“This is another example of the difficulty in Congress exerting any oversight of the intelligence community, because the information is frequently not made available to all members.”

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Intelligence committee withheld key file before critical NSA vote, Amash claims | World news | theguardian.com.

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Attorney for Whistleblower: 400 U.S. Missiles Stolen in Benghazi

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On August 12, Joe DiGenova, attorney for one of the Benghazi whistleblowers, told Washington D.C.’s WMAL that one of the reasons people have remained tight-lipped about Benghazi is because 400 U.S. missiles were “diverted to Libya” and ended up being stolen and falling into “the hands of some very ugly people.”

DiGenova represents Benghazi whistleblower Mark Thompson. He told WMAL that he “does not know whether [the missiles] were at the annex, but it is clear the annex was somehow involved in the distribution of those missiles.”

He claimed his information “comes from a former intelligence official who stayed in constant contact with people in the special ops and intelligence community.” He said the biggest concern right now is finding those missiles before they can be put to use. “They are worried, specifically according to these sources, about an attempt to shoot down an airliner,” he claimed.

On August 4, Breitbart News covered a report in The Telegraph that said 35 CIA operatives were working in Benghazi when the attack against the consulate took place. The Telegraph claimed these operatives were allegedly in an “annex near the consulate [working] on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armories to Syrian Rebels.”

Months earlier, following then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s February 7 testimony on Capitol Hill about the Benghazi attacks, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested that one of the causes behind the terrorist attack “may have been that there was a gun running operation going on in Benghazi, leaving Libya and going to Turkey and [distributing] arms to the [Syrian] rebels.”

Attorney for Whistleblower: 400 U.S. Missiles Stolen in Benghazi.

» Official: Embassy Attack Threat “Had No Basis in Fact”

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A high-ranking Yemeni security official has told McClatchy that the Obama administration’s recently announced terror threat which supposedly targeted US embassies had “no basis in fact” and was manufactured merely to dampen opposition to drone strikes.

Image: YouTube

After initially warning of a terror plot “thought to have been one of the most serious against American and other Western interests since the September 11 attacks,” the US closed 20 embassies and consulates earlier this month, 18 of which reopened yesterday.

The announcement of the threat occurred as it was simultaneously acknowledged that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi last year was linked to a clandestine CIA arms smuggling operation based in the Libyan city that was being used to transport arms to rebels in Syria, many of whom are allied with Al-Qaeda militants.

The announcement of the threat against US embassies also served to justify blanket NSA surveillance, leading some to suggest that the alleged plot was being hyped to distract from the Edward Snowden scandal. It was later claimed that the NSA had intercepted a “conference call” of Al-Qaeda members during which militants discussed an attack.

However, in a report entitled U.S. embassies in Muslim world reopen amid still-murky threats, McClatchy cites, “A high-ranking Yemeni security official speaking on the condition of anonymity,” who told the news outlet that the threat “had no basis in fact,” with the source bemusedly attributing “media reports about imminent terror strikes to a single official’s comments, which he cast as a misguided attempt at shifting public opinion in the face of increasing and unpopular American drone strikes.”

» Official: Embassy Attack Threat “Had No Basis in Fact” Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.