Defense & National Security

Senate Intel Chairman: Rockefeller Has Amnesia

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee suggested Wednesday that Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller was suffering from amnesia or selective memory loss given his criticism of the Bush Administration’s surveillance tactics.

“We’ve contacted the pharmaceutical companies — they have memory pills for seniors and we’re trying to get a memory pill for those who attended the briefings because they’re having some amnesia and sort of a selective memory loss,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R.-Kan.) told HUMAN EVENTS.

“There was always time for questions, always time for any point of view, and Senator Rockefeller was always in the end result very supportive,” Roberts added.

Roberts said senators who were briefed about the National Security Agency’s wiretapping policy, including Rockefeller, had every opportunity to share their concerns with other members.

Roberts’ remarks followed comments made earlier Wednesday to HUMAN EVENTS by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R.-Mich), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He said senators who knew about the program could have taken steps to make their concerns known.

Rockefeller, for instance, only wrote a letter, to which Hoekstra said, "If I felt a great deal of discomfort with this program, there is a lot more I would have done than just write one letter over a period of four years."

Hoekstra then outlined three specific steps Rockefeller could have pursued:

"No. 1, they could have gone directly to the President. That is the first point. There is not a long chain of command. I think it has been reported that my first briefing included the Vice President. If I felt uncomfortable, I could have gone directly to the Vice President and expressed my opinions there and demanded a meeting with the President. I think I would have gotten it.

"As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I represent the equities of the speaker of the House. I am selected by the speaker to represent him on a daily basis on the Intelligence Committee. There is nothing that would have stopped me from going directly to the speaker of the House and saying, ‘Mr. Speaker, I got briefed on this program yesterday and I believe there are serious concerns about this, I need your help and we need to go to the administration and we need to have these issues and these concerns addressed.’

"Then, there is the third step: We write the authorizing language each and every year. The authorizing language is classified. We have very capable staff. We could have come up with a very creative way of writing the language that would have prohibited a program like this without many of our colleagues even knowing what we were talking about. You have some of the most powerful people in Congress and in the country and they are now walking out and saying ‘There is nothing we could have done.’ Give me a break."


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