Feinstein 'Open' to Public NSA Hearings

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein revealed she's open to holding public hearing about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs during an appearance on ABC's This Week, while everyone else gave their initial opinions on the blockbuster scoops. 

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Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein revealed she's open to holding public hearing about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs during an appearance on ABC's This Week. "I'm open to doing a hearing every month if that's necessary," she said. Feinstein said there was a classified session on the program attended by 27 senators on Thursday, but she also recognized there was increasing calls for public explanation and debate about the agency's activity. Still, it's difficult to talk about a classified program in public. "We can't actually go in there and - other than the two that have been released - give the public an actual idea of people that have been saved, attacks that have been prevented, that kind of thing," Feinstein said.

Sen. John McCain defended the program, surprisingly enough, on CNN's State of the Union. He's usually one of the first to criticize the president, especially on national security. "I believe that the FISA court system is an appropriate way of reviewing these policies," McCain said. When asked by host Candy Crowley whether or not he's bothered by what he understands about the program now, McCain said: "No, not really." McCain doesn't think analyzing the length of a conversation, and identifying the participants, is really that big of a deal. "To somehow think that because we are having phone calls recorded, as far as their length and who they were talking to, I don’t think that that is necessarily wrong if they want to go further and they have to go to this court," he said.

Sen. Rand Paul was all bent out of shape about the NSA's surveillance programs on Fox News Sunday. He called the program an "extraordinary invasion of privacy" at one point, and said the monitoring of "a billion phone calls a day" was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Paul said he represents a growing number of Americans who don't approve of the "snooping government" looking at private information. Paul advocated for more "targeted" surveillance, arguing the NSA's current practice wastes too much time on private citizens. He then connected the IRS and NSA scandals, saying they show a "pattern" of a power-drunk government.

Sen. Mark Udall doesn't think the NSA's surveillance program is necessary to stop terrorist attacks. It’s "unclear to me that we’ve developed any intelligence through the metadata program that’s led to the disruption of plots that we couldn’t have developed through other data and other intelligence," the member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on State of the Union. Udall acknowledged the NSA can't see who exactly is calling who, but said the sheer amount of information being drawn "concerns" him. "I think the line has been drawn too far toward 'we’re going to invade your privacy' vs. 'we're going to respect your privacy,'" Udall said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter responsible for reporting the NSA programs, "doesn't have a clue"  how the program works on ABC's This Week. "Neither did the person who released just enough information to literally be dangerous."

Meanwhile, Greenwald said he hasn't been contacted by the authorities about his national security leaks yet during his remote interview on This Week. (Greenwald lives in Britain.) "Any time they would like to speak to me, I would be more than happy to speak to them," Greenwald said. "I will tell them that there is this thing called the Constitution and the very First Amendment of which guarantees a free press." Greenwald previewed what we would learn later about his source's motivations for leaking so much information. "They risked their careers and their lives and their liberty because what they were seeing being done in secret inside the United States government is so alarming and so pernicious that they simply want one thing," Greenwald said. "That is, for the American people at least to learn about what this massive spying apparatus is, and what the capabilities are, so that we can have an open, honest debate about whether that’s the kind of country that we want to live in."

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings promised to reveal the entire interview transcripts with the IRS agents in the Cincinnati office at the center of the scandal when he was on State of the Union. That is, if Rep. Darrell Issa doesn't do it first. "I want every syllable of those transcripts to be released," Cummings said. "If he does not release them, I will. Period." Cummings is the top ranked Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. Issa is the committee chair. Last week, Issa revealed a small sliver of the transcript that he claimed showed the White House directed the IRS to target Tea Party groups on State of the Union. Host Candy Crowley argued that the quotes didn't show what Issa claimed and was suspect of the context the quotes were taken from. Cummings revealed the IRS supervisor in the Cincinnati office identifies as a "conservative Republican," something Cummings said was "very significant." "I think this interview and these statements go a long way to showing that the White House was not involved in this," Cummings said.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte announced she was supporting the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill on CBS's Face the Nation. "Our immigration system is completely broken," the New Hampshire Republican said. But the bill, prepared by Chuck Schumer and John McCain and six others, is "a thoughtful, bipartisan solution to a tough problem." Ayotte praised almost all aspects of the bill. When the thought of filibustering the bill was brought up, Ayotte said the bill deserved debate "the status quo is unacceptable."

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