McCain Wants to Create Senate Committee to Examine NSA

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted January 17, 2014 at 1:33pm

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is planning legislation that would create a select committee to examine intelligence issues, including those raised in President Barack Obama’s speech Friday.

“The vital issues at stake here are complex, broad and cut across many areas of jurisdiction of established congressional committees, including national security, intelligence, technology, commerce, foreign affairs and privacy,” McCain said. “That is why we will introduce legislation to establish a Senate Select Committee to examine all of these important issues and questions.”

Chairmen and ranking members often oppose creation of new select committees because they infringe on their already established turf.

If the Senate actually takes the unusual step of establishing a select committee, the results would almost certainly depend on its members — who would likely end up being appointed by Democratic and Republican leadership.

As for the jurisdictional issues, Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have differed on the best way to address the balancing act between national security and civil liberties when it comes to the intelligence programs.

“In the wake of these announcements, Congress has important tasks ahead. The President has ordered some significant changes, but more are needed. Section 215 must still be amended, legislatively, to ensure it is not used for dragnet surveillance in the future, and we must fight to create an effective, institutional advocate at the FISA court,” Leahy said in a statement. “I will continue to push for meaningful legislative reforms to our surveillance laws.”