It's "total nonsense" to say Congress was told about the NSA collecting communications data on Americans, and as a matter of fact, efforts are made to keep members of Congress in the dark, says Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan.
Members would have a stack of documents hundreds of pages long stacked on a table in front of them and told to read it, Amash said Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor."
If congressional members don't know the definitions of terms used by intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency, they have no way of knowing what the documents mean, he said. One example: There is a difference between the words "collect" and "acquire."
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Further, Amash said, committee members have to phrase their questions in just the right way during hearings or they won't get the answers they seek.
Amash said members of the intelligence committees were aware of the full extent of surveillance, "but I think rank and file members, yes, there was an effort to keep information from us."
Amash said that as recently as last week, a classified document was going to be made available, but it was announced just one day before through an "unusual channel." His staff happened to notice it and he informed other members.
Other members of Congress had missed the announcement. Their knowledge of the meeting came from Amash himself, he said.
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