Ed Henry vs. Carney On Obama Claim That "Every Member Of Congress" Knew Of NSA Spying


ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: You mentioned the President's comments on Friday. To follow on what Jessica was asking about oversight -- on Friday, you referred to that -- the President said, "Every member of Congress has been briefed on this program." Why, then, are not just Republicans but Democrats like Keith Ellison saying, I heard nothing about this. He said he checked his email; he had his staff go back through records. He hasn't been briefed on this.

JAY CARNEY: I can't speak to individual members. What I can tell you is that --

HENRY: But the President said every member of Congress has been briefed on this.

MR. CARNEY: The chair and ranking members of the intelligence committee have made clear that every member was advised of this and had the opportunity for briefings. As was widely reported over the weekend, the Department of Justice and intelligence officials have taken multiple actions to inform members of these authorities, including providing in-person briefings and classified white papers. The classified white papers were provided by the intelligence committees in December of 2009 and 2011, along with a formal request that the white papers be made available for review by all members.

The intelligence judiciary committees have been briefed on these operations multiple times and have been provided access to copies of the classified FISA Court orders and opinions relevant to the use of Section 215. And I would point you to statements by other members of Congress about the fact that this congressional oversight exists.

Again, I can't speak to every individual member. What I can say is that it is simply true that there is substantial congressional oversight, but that’s simply a matter of course and as it should be. It does not mean that these matters shouldn’t be debated or that voices shouldn’t be heard if there's disagreement about where we have found that balance and whether we ought to consider making adjustments. But that debate should also include an understanding and appreciation for the need for programs like this in the world that we live in and given the threats that we face.

HENRY: Two other quick ones on this -- but we were told that all House members are getting a briefing on Tuesday about these surveillance programs. It sounds a little bit like retroactively, if the President Friday says, "Every member of Congress has been briefed" -- now, if they have been briefed, why are they getting another briefing on Tuesday? Have there been major updates?

MR. CARNEY: Ed, I'm not aware of any -- I'm not aware of it. I would refer you to the agencies that are briefing.

HENRY: You're not aware of a briefing? There's a briefing on Tuesday.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I'm not personally giving it, but I would refer you to the agencies that might be involved. But I can just point you to what numerous members of Congress have said to the very facts about congressional oversight here, and tell you that it’s an important part of this process; that both the courts and Congress provide oversight of these programs, as does the executive branch through inspectors general and through other means, to make sure that there are checks and balances in place.

That doesn't make them perfect. It means that the programs do have the oversight that was sought in the past as a means of ensuring that they were conducted properly and in legal -- both conducted properly and legally and consistent with our values.

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