Last week, press reports revealed more about the National Security Agency's (NSA) elite hacking unit, the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO). The press also helped the public grasp other NSA activities, like how it's weakening encryption. All of this is on top of the NSA's collection of users' phone calls, emails, address books, buddy lists, calling records, online video game chats, financial documents, browsing history, and calendar data we’ve learned about since June.
By contrast, thus far Congress as a whole has done little to help the public understand what the NSA and the larger intelligence community is doing. Even members of Congress seem to learn more from newspaper reports than from “official” sources.
Regaining Congressional Oversight
Something is very wrong when Congress and the public learn more about the NSA's activities from newspaper leaks than from the Senate and House intelligence committees. The committees are supposed to oversee the intelligence community activities on behalf of the public, but more often—as the New Yorker describes it—"treat senior intelligence officials like matinée idols.”
It's time for Congress to reassert its oversight role and begin a full-scale investigation into the NSA’s ...