Carney defends Obama remarks on NSA briefings to Congress
By Justin Sink - 06/10/13 02:18 PM ET
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday sidestepped questions about whether President Obama had been correct when he insisted last week that “all members of Congress” had been briefed on the National Security Agency's telephone record program.
Asked about the claim Monday, Carney pointed to a letter from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that indicated all members of the Senate had been told about the program.
Pressed on whether the same briefings were extended to members of the House, Carney simply said there “has been substantial provision of information to Congress ... either to all members or the appropriate committee members of Congress or leadership.”
Speaking in California on Friday, Obama said “every member of Congress has been briefed” on the phone records program.
The claim was immediately disputed by members of the House.
Rep. Billy Long (R-La.) tweeted after the president's remarks he had not been briefed.
“Not quite!” Long wrote.
That concern was echoed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who has said he reviewed his records and found no indication he had been offered briefing materials.
Republican senators, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), have also disputed the president's claim that all members of Congress were briefed.
Pressed on Monday, Carney noted that the controversy surrounded "sections of a public statute that was debated, passed, renewed, debated again."
“I can't speak to every individual member — what I can say is it is simply true there is substantial congressional oversight,” Carney said.
Last week, the White House said the Department of Justice and intelligence community provided a document in both 2009 and 2011 to the Intelligence committees in both chambers detailing the classified uses of the Patriot Act's Section 215. According to the White House, that document was supposed to be made available to all members of the House and Senate.