Father’s Day: NSA Briefing Skipped So Senators Can Head Home Early

Is Father’s Day a good reason to skip an NSA briefing? The majority of US senators believed that it was more important to head out early on Thursday afternoon to catch flights home than to attend an official briefing on NSA surveillance programs.

The briefing including senior intelligence officials like James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, and Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA).

A media head count showed that only 47 of America’s 100 senators hung around for the 2:30 NSA briefing about the supposedly controversial programs to monitor telephone and Internet activity. The program was recently cast into the spotlight when NSA contractor Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong after leaking classified information regarding the program.

Initially hailed as a hero after his story was published by UK newspaper The Guardian, Snowden’s boasts that he could have even wiretapped the President have begun to raise some skepticism about the genuine scope of his power with the NSA.

A Father’s Day get-together with the family may indeed seem more pressing to some senators than the NSA briefing.

However, some observers were angry, because senators had previously complained that they hadn’t been fully informed about the NSA surveillance program — and yet they chose to pass on the opportunity to learn more from senior officials.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was particularly fired up about the Father’s Day senator skip-out:

“People should go out and see how the program is set up, see how it’s conducted, ask questions, come to the briefings. It’s hard to get this story out. Even now we have this big briefing – we’ve got Alexander, we’ve got the FBI, we’ve got the Justice Department, we have the FISA Court there, we have Clapper there – and people are leaving.”

If you were a senator, would you have played hooky from the NSA briefing? Is Father’s Day more important?

[image by Hayati Kayhan via Shutterstock]