White House spokesman Jay Carney softly walked back President Obama’s Friday assertion that every member of Congress has been briefed on the phone and Internet surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency.
Obama stated that all members of Congress had been briefed on the Verizon surveillance, and said that Congress generally had been “fully apprised” and “continually briefed” on the Internet and email surveillance.
“What you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress, bipartisan majorities have approved on them, Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted,” Obama said Friday.
Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is one of several members of Congress who have said they were not aware of the programs.
“In these cases, there has been substantial provision of information to Congress, both depending on the section we’re talking about of the Patriot Act, either to all members or to the appropriate committee members and leadership,” Carney said at Monday’s press briefing.
Multiple reporters, including CNN’s Jessica Yellin and Fox News Channel’s Ed Henry, pressed Carney on whether all members have been briefed.
“The chair and ranking members of the intelligence committee have made clear that every member was advised of this and had the opportunity for briefings,” Carney answered. “As was widely reported over the weekend, the Department of Justice and intelligence officials have taken multiple actions to inform members of these authorities, including providing in-person briefings and classified white papers. The classified white papers were provided by the intelligence committees in December of 2009 and 2011, along with a formal request that the white papers be made available for review by all members.”