Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, is among a handful of NSA critics who have been invited to give testimony before Congress to counter the “constant misleading information” from intelligence officials, Rep. Alan Grayson said. The Democratic congressman from Florida is leading the hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday.
Greenwald confirmed via Twitter that he will attend the hearing remotely.
This marks the first time that critics of the NSA program have been invited to testify in front of a bipartisan group of congressional members since whistle-blower Edward Snowden leaked top-secret information about the agency’s mass collection of phone and Internet records.
“I have been concerned about the fact that we have heard incessantly in recent weeks from [director of the NSA] General Keith Alexander and [director of the NSA] Mr. James Clapper xabout their side of the story,” Grayon said. “We have barely heard anything in Congress from critics of the program.”
He continued: “We have put together an ad hoc, bipartisan hearing on domestic surveillance. ... We plan to have critics of the program come in and give their view—from the left and the right.”
The hearing will take place a week after Republican Congressman Justin Amash’s amendment aimed at curbing the NSA’s gathering of phone records was narrowly defeated in the House.
Grayson said the hearing had bipartisan support, and was backed by the Republican congressman Justin Amash, whose draft the amendment that was narrowly defeated.
“Mr Amash has declared an interest in the hearing. There are several others who have a libertarian bent – largely the same people who represented the minority of Republicans who decided to vote in favour of the Amash amendment.”
The hearing will take place at the same time as a Senate hearing into the NSA’s activities. That will feature Gen Alexander and possibly his deputy, Chris Inglis, as well as senior officials from the Department of Justice and FBI.
The simultaneous timing of the hearings will lead to a notable juxtaposition between opponents and defenders of the government’s surveillance activities.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.