A video recently surfaced showing Rep. Jim Langevin explaining why Rep. Alan Grayson and Rep. Morgan Griffith could not have access to classified information about the National Security Agency's spying program.
According to the White House, President Barack Obama addressed the NSA spying programs on June, 7, 2013, after NSA documents had been leaked by Edward Snowden to journalist Glenn Greenwald:
"Now, the programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press are secret in the sense that they're classified. But they're not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program. With respect to all these programs, the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs. These are programs that have been authorized by broad bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006."
At the time, Langevin was a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and had access to the details of the NSA spying program.
The Intercept reports that the video (below) shows Langevin at a town hall meeting on Aug. 29, 2013, explaining why noncommittee members such as Grayson and Griffith could not have access to information about the NSA they requested.
Langevin begins the segment by claiming that no one had come forward to claim that the NSA spying program had violated their privacy, but the program had been secret for years and had been only exposed by Snowden for a couple of months. Since then, there have been numerous claims of privacy violations.
"Just some of the things that they want, they can’t have access to because they’re not cleared to do it. And there's, they again, they have oversight committees for a reason. There are things that they want access to that if they were to do it, they were read on these programs, again, it may compromise security. I don't, I can’t off the top of my head tell you what it is that they want to know, but not every member of Congress is going to get access to information that they are seeking … Again, otherwise, you, you could argue that we couldn’t have classified information or classified programs and I would argue that this, they exist for a reason."
A spokesperson for Griffith told The Intercept that the congressman eventually got an opportunity to review the NSA program, but it took more than 100 days to get the authorization.
Grayson told The Intercept he never got access, and added:
"The committee has no authority to make those kinds of distinctions. They’ve created two tiers for members of Congress. I’m not aware of any statutory authority for such a distinction; but it’s just a power grab as members of Intelligence and I have the same constitutional authority."