Senator Dean Heller
Senator Al Franken

Two Senators Upbraid The Intelligence Community For Insufficient Disclosure

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Consider Senators Al Franken and Dean Heller unimpressed.

Today the two Senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, released statements disparaging a recent transparency report from the U.S. intelligence community that broke down its activities in incredibly vague fashion.

The view of Senator Heller, that the report is progress, but not nearly enough, is roughly what I’m hearing from the private sector, as well. Here’s the Senator himself:

The report released by the Administration represents some progress, but it does not do near enough to provide Americans with adequate information. The American people deserve greater transparency and American companies should be able to disclose more information when it comes to privacy rights and the federal government’s surveillance activities.

His statement goes on to indicate support for the Surveillance Transparency Act (STA) of 2013, which he and Senator Franken introduced.

Senator Franken had similar comments, saying that the report is a “far cry from the kind of transparency that the American people demand and deserve.” The senator continues, stating that the report “still leaves Americans in the dark,” and that it “doesn’t tell the American people enough about what information is being gathered about them and how it’s being used.”

I noted in my initial coverage that the report itself was vague and incomplete and of limited use. But prior to the Snowden leaks, even this level of disclosure would have been unthinkable. Progress is progress even if it comes in small quantities.

The STA would force more disclosure. It hasn’t seen much motion inside of Congress. The ever-wrong-but-still-funny GovTrack.us ‘Prognosis’ tracker gives it a 1 percent chance of passing. There was some overlap between the STA and the USA FREEDOM Act. As The Hill also notes regarding the the crossover, “some transparency provisions were dropped from the House version.”

Following the release of the statements, Senator Franken announced that he will co-sponsor the USA FREEDOM Act in the Senate, aiming to push for more transparency. Hardly surprising timing, of course.

If the larger intelligence community had hoped that the report would quell discontent with its surveillance programs, consider that optimism dashed.

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