Rep. Amash: Intelligence committees undermine oversight

{mosads}But Amash accused the committees of “covering up” for the intelligence agencies and said they try to “hinder” the work of Congress.

“Time and again the intelligence committees have not been the friends of Congress but the opponents of Congress,” he said.

When Congress was voting to re-authorize the Patriot Act in 2011, the House Intelligence Committee invited members to view a classified document describing the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone data. But Amash said the invitation was sent through the congressional “dear colleague” service, which he described as “almost like a spam box.”

Amash said he told a few other members about the invitation, and they were the only ones who showed up to view the document.

In a statement last month, Susan Phalen, the spokeswoman for the House Intelligence Committee, said committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) invited all members to a series of classified briefings with intelligence officials to explain the surveillance programs.

“It is unfortunate that some of the Members now attacking the Committee chose not to avail themselves of the opportunity back when these programs were not discussed so prominently in the news media,” committee spokeswoman Susan Phalen said in the statement.

But Amash said that intelligence officials are often evasive during classified briefings and reveal little new information unless directly pressed.

“You don’t have any idea what kind of things are going on,” Amash said. “So you have to start just spitting off random questions. Does the government have a moon base? Does the government have a talking bear? Does the government have a cyborg army? If you don’t know what kind of things the government might have, you just have to guess and it becomes a totally ridiculous game of twenty questions.” 


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