During an interview with the StarTribune, Senator Al Franken confirmed that the Senate Judiciary Committee is well aware of how the intelligence community conducts itself and he downplayed some of the more hyperbolic implications out there.
Franken: These are classified briefings. I can only discusses it in limited detail, but because I’m on the Judiciary Committee and because the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction on NSA, and on FISA, and on the Patriot Act, this is something I availed myself of these briefings so nothing surprised me. And the architecture of these programs is very well aware.
There are certain things that are appropriate for me to know that’s not appropriate for the bad guys to know. That makes a lot of sense. So anything the American people know the bad guys know.
I have a high level of confidence that this is used to protect us and I know it has been successful at preventing terrorism.
I don’t believe that the American people should have to take the government’s word for it. I think there should be enough transparency so the American people understand whats happening. I think maybe they do to a greater degree now understand, but I can assure you that this isn’t about spying on the American people. This is about having the data available so that if there are suspicions about foreign persons or persons that have connections with terrorist organizations that we can connect the dots.
Look I am chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. There’s probably no one in the Senate that looks at these issues in terms of American’s privacy more than I do.
There’s certainly going to be – it’s very proper – for the Justice Department to do the investigation to see whether this will be a problem.
Quite frankly, I trust the words of Senator Al Franken, and I consider him to be far more credible than vague implications made by self-interested writers who have produced no evidence of what they claim.
Confirmations that the NSA’s Prism program does not apply to American citizens and that it does not lack oversight are piling up, while the claim that the NSA has been granted sweeping direct-access to American’s data at all times remains unsubstantiated and unconfirmed.
And more to Franken’s point that the Judiciary Committee was well aware of this — beware of Republican congressmen running to the cameras to feign outrage and shock-horror. If they weren’t aware, it’s probably their own fault, just as it was their own fault that they failed to attend a classified briefing on Benghazi and then spent the next several months claiming they haven’t been informed.