WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Many Local Lawmakers Have Signed Off On Domestic Surveillance

Play associated audio
Many local lawmakers voted to authorize and reauthorize The Patriot Act, despite protests against NSA surveillance.
Victoria Pickering: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vpickering/4607909002/
Many local lawmakers voted to authorize and reauthorize The Patriot Act, despite protests against NSA surveillance.

Lawmakers in the region are having mixed reactions to reports that the Obama Administration potentially tracked phone records of tens of millions of Americans.

Politicians aren't a shy group, but after reports came out that the National Security Agency has access to the phone records of Verizon's more than 100 million customers, many lawmakers became uncharacteristically close lipped.

"I need to know a little bit more before I talk about it," says Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Other reactions were more blunt, like that of Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).

"I mean I can understand why Russia does that, why Iran does that, why China does that," Moran says. "I can't understand why a democracy does that, and why we have set up the tools to enable them to do that."

Officials in the Obama Administration and the heads of Congress Intelligence Committees are defending the sweeping surveillance program, saying it's essential for national security. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) says he's always been troubled that lawmakers are forbidden from airing concerns about the program.

"I would have felt a lot better if I, as a congressman, could go look at them and then if I saw something I thought it was bad it was perfectly permissible to take the floor of the House and rail," Griffith says. "But for security reasons, I can't talk about them and it's all done behind closed doors."

Authorized by the Patriot Act, the order came from a secret court overseeing foreign and domestic surveillance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Experts say this is the tip of the iceberg, and the government collects far more information on American citizens than is revealed.

But Philip Bump, from the Atlantic Wire, reminds us that Congress has consistently voted to expand the government's authority to conduct domestic surveillance. Bump has compared the voting records of members of Congress, as seen below.

Lawmakers in both parties are now calling for hearings into the secret program.

NPR

He Died At 32, But A Young Artist Lives On In LA's Underground Museum

When Noah Davis founded the museum, he wanted to bring world-class art to a neighborhood he likened to a food desert, meaning no grocery stores or museums. Davis died a year ago Monday.
NPR

The Strange, Twisted Story Behind Seattle's Blackberries

Those tangled brambles are everywhere in the city, the legacy of an eccentric named Luther Burbank whose breeding experiments with crops can still be found on many American dinner plates.
WAMU 88.5

State Taxes, School Budgets And The Quality Of Public Education

Budget cutbacks have made it impossible for many states to finance their public schools. But some have bucked the trend by increasing taxes and earmarking those funds for education. Taxes, spending and the quality of public education.

NPR

Listen: 'Web Site Story,' NPR's Musical About The Internet — From 1999

Found in our archives: an Internet-themed remake of West Side Story from the dot-com bubble era. It begins with Bill Gates and features the sound of a modem but isn't as obsolete as you might expect.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.