Politics

U.S. Senators Skip NSA Briefing for Paris Show (List Included)

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An optional briefing on National Security Agency surveillance programs given by the Director of National Intelligence failed to attract even half of all Senate members, which displays the lack of enthusiasm lawmakers feel about the controversial topic.

The meeting featured speakers such as the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, head of NSA Keith Alexander and other officials who rarely appear to speak with lawmakers.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein, who planned the meeting for the benefit of the Senate, was especially angered when some Senators reported attending the Paris Air Show instead of the NSA briefing.

Sen. James Inhofe was able to attend the NSA briefing and catch an evening flight to France, demonstrating that attending both was certainly possible. Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Shelby argued the Paris aerospace show was important for America’s domestic economy.

One Senate aide described the trip as a “boondoggle.”

A majority of other senators showed preference for the Armed Services Committee Meeting, which was scheduled during the same time as the NSA briefing.

Despite meager attendance, many senators expressed a lack of understanding in reference to government surveillance programs, especially the NSA’s.

“The first I heard of the program was when it broke in the news,” Sen. Susan Collins said, though she sits on the Senate Select committee on Intelligence.

Sen. John McCain dismissed Collins’ excuse as passivity and added that there were plenty of briefing sessions and an ability to request further information.

“They certainly voted on these programs,” McCain said. “If they didn’t know what they were voting on, I’m not sure that it is the executive branch’s responsibility.”

Here is who missed the meeting, via The Hill:

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

Dan Coats (R-Ind.)

Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)

Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)

Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.)

Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)

Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)

Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)

Dean Heller (R-Nev.)

Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)

Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)

Tim Kaine (D-Va.)

Angus King (I-Maine)

Mary Landrieu (D-La.)

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Mike Lee (R-Utah)

Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)

Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

James Risch (R-Idaho)

Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

John Thune (R-S.D.)

Mark Udall (D-Colo.)

David Vitter (R-La.)

Mark Warner (D-Va.)

Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Sources: Boston Globe, WND, The Hill

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