The Guardian reports: The leadership of the House intelligence committee is under growing pressure to explain whether it withheld surveillance information from members of Congress before a key vote to renew the Patriot Act.
A Republican congressman and government ethics watchdogs are demanding that the powerful panel’s chairman, Mike Rogers of Michigan, responds to charges that the panel’s leadership failed to share a document prepared by the justice department and intelligence community.
The document was explicitly created to inform non-committee members about bulk collection of Americans’ phone records ahead of the vote in 2011. Michigan Republican Justin Amash alleged that the committee kept it from non-committee members – the majority of the House.
Now Morgan Griffith, a Republican who represents Virginia’s ninth district, is calling for answers. “I certainly think leadership needs to figure out what’s going on. We’re trying to get information so we can do our jobs as congressmen,” he told the Guardian. “If we’re not able to get that information, it’s inappropriate.”
“Obviously, this is of concern,” he added.
Griffith has been been critical of the committee for blocking attempts by non-members to obtain information about classified programs. On August 4, the Guardian published a series of letters he had written to the committee requesting more details, all of which had gone unanswered.
The accusations broaden the focus of the surveillance controversy from the National Security Agency to one of the congressional committees charged with exercising oversight of it – and the panel’s closeness to the NSA it is supposed to oversee. [Continue reading…]