photo: Gage Skidmore
The Huffington Post reports today that NSA director General Keith Alexander called an emergency Top Secret/SCI-level meeting on Capitol Hill to urge Members to vote against Rep. Justin Amash's (R-MI) amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill which would end blanket collection authority under the Patriot Act and stop the NSA and other agencies "from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215."
These behind closed doors sessions are usually designed to intimidate and strong-arm any wavering Members. As Rep. John Duncan (R-TN), a Ron Paul Institute Board Member, has recounted numerous times, administration and intelligence community officials use highly questionable tactics and bogus evidence at these secret briefings to browbeat Members into voting their way.
Today's NSA-requested meeting will be no different. No doubt Alexander will bring out all manner of "evidence" of the ghastly plots that were averted through the collection of millions of our phone records, but as the Huffington Post article points out, "Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee with access to classified details about the program, said there is no evidence that the data collection had been directly responsible for stopping any single plot."
Gen. Alexander's tactics are familiar as they are disturbing. The ability to classify such briefings at the highest levels imparts upon them a level of seriousness and truthfulness that is not necessarily warranted. And it is chilling to think that a member of the executive branch would insert himself so deeply into the legislative processes of the first branch of government, Congress.
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