President Obama invited nine members of Congress to a closed-door meeting today to secretly discuss details of the NSA surveillance program, in an attempt to placate growing outrage and sell on idea of a “dialogue” on reforms as a replacement for Congressional efforts at getting real oversight.
Though presented as including “some of the programs’ most prominent critics,” the list conspicuously leaves out most of the high profile opponents of the surveillance state, including only Sens. Ron Wyden (D – OR) and Mark Udall (D – CO), who have positions that mean they would’ve already had access to any disclosures made today.
The driving forces behind bills aimed to end the worst excesses of the surveillance, Rep. Justin Amash (R – MI) and Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) were both left out, and even Sen. Wyden appeared unimpressed by the presentation, saying he warned Obama that real reforms need to happen immediately.
The huge levels of public opposition to surveillance has driven a quick shift against the administration in the House, with Rep. Amash almost passing an amendment ending phone surveillance despite loud lobbying from the Obama Administration and both parties’ leadership. Though publicly the administration seems to be ruling out anything but trivial changes to “transparency,” they seem increasingly resigned to the fact that this opposition is going to force change eventually.
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