McClatchy reports: Congress is growing increasingly wary of controversial National Security Agency domestic surveillance programs, a concern likely to erupt during legislative debate _ and perhaps prod legislative action _ as early as next week.
Skepticism has been slowly building since last month’s disclosures that the super-secret NSA conducted programs that collected Americans’ telephone data. Dozens of lawmakers are introducing measures to make those programs less secret, and there’s talk of denying funding and refusing to continue authority for the snooping.
The anxiety is a sharp contrast to June’s wait-and-see attitude after Edward Snowden, a government contract worker, leaked highly classified data to the media. The Guardian newspaper of Britain reported one program involved cellphone records. The Guardian, along with The Washington Post, also said another program allowed the government access to the online activity of users at nine Internet companies.
Obama administration officials quickly provided briefings about the programs, and they continue to have strong defenders at the Capitol. “People at the NSA in particular have heard a constant public drumbeat about a laundry list of nefarious things they are alleged to be doing to spy on Americans _ all of them wrong,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said last month. “The misperceptions have been great, yet they keep their heads down and keep working every day to keep us safe.”
Most in Congress remain reluctant to tinker with any program that could compromise security, but lawmakers are growing frustrated. “I think the administration and the NSA has had six weeks to answer questions and haven’t done a good job at it. They’ve been given their chances, but they have not taken those chances,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash. [Continue reading…]