Alan Grayson, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Florida, wrote an excellent piece in the Guardian in which he openly admits what many of us had already surmised: Most members of Congress have been completely kept in the dark about America's ubiquitous surveillance programs.
Despite being a member of Congress possessing security clearance, I've learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from reading media reports than I have from "intelligence" briefings.
That's a damning admission. It flies in the face of what members of Team Obama have been saying for months. As Grayson points out, it is next too impossible for Congress to provide any meaningful oversight when they aren't provided with adequate information.
I've requested classified information, and further meetings with NSA officials. The House Intelligence Committee has refused to provide either. Supporters of the NSA's vast ubiquitous domestic spying operation assure the public that members of Congress can be briefed on these activities whenever they want. Senator Saxby Chambliss says all a member of Congress needs to do is ask for information, and he'll get it. Well I did ask, and the House Intelligence Committee said "no", repeatedly. And virtually every other member not on the Intelligence Committee gets the same treatment.
It is more than obvious that very few people are "in the know" and that's the way the intelligence community likes it. Providing crucial information opens up these agencies to someone saying, "Hey, you can't do that!" If few people know what you're really up to, then you can pretty much do whatever you damn well want...which happens to describe what the NSA and other agencies have done.