The National Security Agency held four hours worth of â€œtop secretâ€ briefings Tuesday to lobby members of the House to continue funding its secret surveillance program.
First reported by the Huffington Post, the head of the NSA, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, urged House lawmakers during the two classified briefings to oppose an amendment from Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that would defund the NSAâ€™s blanket collection of telephone records.
Republicans held a two-hour briefing with Alexander at 11 a.m.; Democrats followed at 1 p.m.
Amash won the battle to have his amendment voted on as part of debate on the Defense Department spending bill, but he has not yet won the war â€” and he wonâ€™t if the NSA has anything to say about it.
Aides theorized Tuesday that the members-only briefing outlined instances in which the surveillance program was successful.
Whatever was discussed did not change Amashâ€™s mind about the program.
A senior aide for Amash told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday afternoon that despite the unusual lobbying effort, the lawmaker had not changed his stance.
â€œIâ€™ve never heard of an official of that stature, in the middle of the night, being told to hustle down to the Hill for a four-hour long briefing,â€ the aide said. â€œThe more information members have about the NSA surveillance program, the more unease they have about the programâ€™s operation.â€
The aide said Amash went to the 11 a.m. Republican â€œquestion and answer sessionâ€ to monitor the briefing and hear the arguments.
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