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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Democratic Senator: Senate Oversight On Spying Cannot Be Done Responsibly Without Straight Answers

By Susan Duclos

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden is quoted directly in a Reuters article saying "One of the most important responsibilities a senator has is oversight of the intelligence community. This job cannot be done responsibly if senators aren't getting straight answers to direct questions."

Senator Wyden just wrapped up the underlying problem that has been seen very publicly over the last couple of months as scandal after scandal has rocked the Obama adminsitration.

The IRS targeting conservatives and Obama's political enemies, the DOJ going attacking the free press with phone monitoring, email monitoring with secret court orders, the NSA collecting data on millions of Americans with secret FISA court orders and forcing large tech companies like
Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple to provide them with thier customers private information and finally, more secret court orders to obtain phone data on Verizon's 121 million customers.

Congress exists as a balance of power to any administration, just as the Judicial branch was created as a balance of power to Congress and the Executive branch (White House). Simply put the delegates at the Constitutional Convention didn't want any one person or group to hold too much power and become a dictator or tyrant.

That balance of power cannot exist, when those responsible for oversight on the Executive branch, are lied to directly by the executive branch and their officials, or as the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper puts it, gives Congress the "least untruthful" answers.

For example, regarding the IRS targeting conservative groups, in a 2012 House Ways and Means Committee hearing former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner, Douglas Shulman, lied directly to Congress when he proclaimed "There's absolutely no targeting."

 “He said, absolutely not. He categorically denied it,” recalled Boustany on Friday. “But he was aware of what was going on during this time frame because we know that [a] senior technical advisor had already been sent out to Cincinnati to investigate what was going on and to report back.”

It is not just Republican lawmakers complaining about their inability to provide oversight on a Democratic administration. Democratic Senators are just as concerned about receiving false, misleading answers to their direct questions, as evidenced by Democratic Senator Jon Tester, who is a sponsor of new legislation which would force more disclosures to Congress. 

Tester states "We, here, Congress needs to be informed of what's going on, and we're not, and that's very disturbing to me."

As well it should be concerning, not just to Congress, but to every American.

Congress cannot be the check and balance against an overreaching administration and provide oversight over programs, nor protect the American people from the administration violating their constitutional rights and civil liberties, when angency heads under Obama are lying about the extent of those violations.

Doing an end run around Congress, to avoid being stopped from violating the constitutional rights every citizen in the country is entitled to, is tyranny, pure and simple.

Full Wake up America NSA scandal coverage found here.