House Intel panel blasts critics who skipped NSA briefings

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Last month, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) claimed that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) failed to share a Justice Department memo on the phone data collection with other lawmakers ahead of the 2011 Patriot Act reauthorization vote.

"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, meaning that the large class of Representatives elected in 2010 did not receive either of the now declassified documents detailing these programs," Amash wrote in a Facebook post

Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) also told The Guardian that they were kept in the dark about the programs. 

"If I can't get basic information about these programs, then I'm not able to do my job," Griffith told the newspaper. He said his job includes "making decisions about whether these programs should be funded, but also an oath to safeguard the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which includes the Fourth Amendment."

Although the committee did not share the Justice Department memo with other members, Phalen insisted that all members were invited to classified briefings where they could have learned about the programs.

“The House Intelligence Committee makes it a top priority to inform Members about the intelligence issues on which Members must vote," she said. "This process is always conducted consistent with the Committee’s legal obligation to carefully protect the sensitive intelligence sources and methods that our intelligence agencies use to keep the American people safe.  Prior to voting on the PATRIOT Act reauthorization and the FISA Amendments Act reauthorization, Chairman Rogers hosted classified briefings to which all Members were invited to have their questions about these authorities answered."