Dem. Senator Shuts Down Obama’s Defense: ‘Average Member’ of Congress Not Aware of the Extent of Government Spying

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Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Friday shut down the notion that every member of Congress was fully aware of the government’s Internet and phone spying programs.

Durbin told Politico that while congressional leadership and intelligence committee members were given information about the programs, the “average member” of Congress was likely not aware of the extent of the government’s monitoring.

“They don’t receive this kind of briefing,” Durbin said of the rank-and-file members.

As part of his defense of the programs, Obama insisted that “every member of Congress” had been briefed on the National Security Agency’s telephone program and that Congress was “fully apprised” of the Internet program.

But Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told Politico he “hadn’t been briefed on this particular issue” of the government obtaining phone records, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he learned of it through news reports — though added it “wasn’t a surprise.”

Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) replied “Not quite!” in response to a journalist’s tweet that said “Obama says “every member of Congress” has been briefed on phone program #NSA.”