Lawmakers deny being stonewalled on National Security Agency information

Senior members of Congress denied a report on Sunday that the National Security Agency (NSA) is refusing to turn over basic information about its operations to lawmakers.

Speaking on Sunday talk shows, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) argued that the NSA has been responsive to congressional requests for information.

The three lawmakers all serve on the committees that oversee the NSA and other intelligence agencies.


"Anyone who says Congress is somehow being stonewalled is just wrong," King said on "This Week" on ABC. He said he believes the complaints are being "raised by people who are trying to make a name for themselves."

The Guardian reported on Sunday that lawmakers who do not serve on the intelligence panels have been unable to access basic documents about the NSA's surveillance programs.

Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) provided the newspaper with numerous emails and letters documenting their repeated requests for access to the classified materials.

"If I can't get basic information about these programs, then I'm not able to do my job", Griffith told the newspaper. He explained that 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."

But the Intelligence Committee lawmakers noted that NSA Director Keith Alexander has provided classified briefings to all members of Congress and that senior intelligence committee officials have testified in several open congressional hearings.

"If they're aren't [learning about the programs], it's their own fault," Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate intelligence Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"All members of Congress have the ability to come in and review most of the documents that are involved in these programs—not all of them, but most of them," he said. 

Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he favors declassifying as much information as possible about the programs.

 "What we are trying to do now is to get the American public to know more about what’s going on, that NSA is following the law, and that we have checks and balances." Ruppersberger said.