Congress FISA NSA Security

Al Franken: I’m Not Surprised, This Isn’t About Spying on Americans

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.

  • Newt

    “I know it has been successful at preventing terrorism.”
    I don’t believe either of you. Prove it.
    “Quite frankly, I trust the words of Senator Al Franken.
    None of the rest of us do. Again, let him prove it. “Trust us” doesn’t fly
    when we’re sacrificing our 1st, 4th, 5th and other amendments on the
    chopping block. If you can’t prove this program works, then the
    sacrifices it asks of us aren’t acceptable. At all.

    I’m *tired* of a government that tells us if we have nothing to hide, we have
    nothing to fear – and that then operates in secrecy. You should be too.
    The fact that you’re not just illuminates what a left-wing sycophant you
    are…and I’m saying that as a staunch liberal.

    This is all fun and games with Obama in office, but what do you think will happen if…WHEN…we get another Nixon or Bush in the White House without having put some limitations on these warrantless data seizures? We’ll all be screwed.

  • hamletta

    Al Franken is one of the few people in our government that I trust (almost) unconditionally.

    I’m so old I watched him on SNL in real time, but I’ve read his books, and I listened to his radio show, too.

    I believe he’s deeply committed to doing what’s right without fear or favor, and is smart and humble enough to research what that right thing is.

  • amberchi

    Sorry, even with someone I respect, I will not just “trust them” carte blanch. Was against this under Bush and am against the Obama administrations continuation/expansion of these activities.

    Encourage you to read this article on privacy.

  • phil langone

    Chris Matthews show tonight is obnoxious. It’s like listening to a bunch of geezers talk about technology like it just came from an alien race…oh, wait. At the moment they are interviewing some clown from the Washington Post. Ugh.

  • blackdaug

    Good catch on this as well. I don’t think there is anyone I would trust more in the Senate…unless it was Warren, and she has her hands full with other matters.

  • JosephP

    Osama bin Laden did not have an internet connection. The terrorists already know about this and take steps to avoid this type of surveillance. Greenwald did nothing to damage our security by revealing it. The only thing he damaged was the reputations of the people that lied and said there was no blanket snooping on domestic communications, when indeed there was.

  • JosephP

    So it all boils down to, “trust us.”

    I personally like Senator Franken. But I am not willing to surrender my rights to anyone that says “trust us.” Even Al Franken. We are a nation of laws, not of men that we trust.

    • Lancelot Link

      “We are a nation of laws, not of men that we trust”

      Yes, unless a couple asshat Libertarians decide they don’t like the law, then it’s TYRANNY!!

  • Steven Skelton

    Trust us….says the government.

  • Christopher Foxx

    beware of Republican congressmen running to the cameras to feign outrage and shock-horror

    And if they do that, Dems should as quickly run to the cameras and call them out on it.

    Nah, not gonna happen. What was I thinking?

    • Then again, Dems could run to the cameras and whole-heartedly agree… “Yeah, you’re right… maybe something should be done about that awful Patriot Act intrusion thing!”

  • blackdaug

    It’s starting to look like GG’s 15 minutes of being “Wood-Stein” are beginning to unravel…

    • missliberties

      I pray. GG is going to hurt himself with his own exploding ego.

    • JosephP

      Lots of hate for Greenwald. Why do people make the argument about the personality of the arguer, instead of the substance of the argument?

      • Lady Willpower

        Some writers are able to get a point across without letting their own egos smother it. Glenn Greenwald is not such a writer.

      • Bob’s point on “produced no evidence of what they claim” was about personality and not about substance?

        Better read it again.