Many elected officials who opposed the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) broad surveillance efforts were “demagogues” who did not know the real issues involved, said a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) told the morning audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the people in the House who voted to cut funding for the NSA’s surveillance efforts preferred taking a stand to understanding the situation. Those who voted against cutting the NSA’s funding were the people who’ve been getting the intelligence briefings.
Rep. Thornberry decried the NSA’s opponents as “people who don’t want to go to the briefings, they don’t want their minds to be cluttered by the facts, they just want to feed their Twitter streams.” Those who did attend the briefings understood the scope of the threat and recognized the vital importance of these efforts in protecting the United States.
The NSA controversy provides some guidelines, he continued. It points out that the real challenge is with laws and policies—above all, public confidence. As the threat has grown, policies have not kept up. The country needs an open discussion with as many facts that can be publicized.
“The more we can talk about cyber and intelligence in the open, the better we will be … the less the demagogues can take it and run with it,” the congressman declared.