Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, says he’s not satisfied with the explanations he received at a classified briefing on the NSA with members of the intelligence community.
“No, ” Ellison said on Wednesday’s NOW with Alex Wagner. “It’s been said that they gave us notice, I’m still looking for when that notice was actually meaningfully given. I haven’t seen that yet.” He added, “I think we need some honest answers from the executive branch.”
Ellison–the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2006 – voted against extending provisions of the PATRIOT Act in 2011 and made it clear he believed more changes were needed.
“I think Congress needs to step forward boldly and change the law,” he said. “The 215 section of the PATRIOT Act, you could drive a truck through it, you could drive an aircraft carrier through it.”
Alex Wagner also asked Ellison whether he was disappointed by White House’s “trust us” attitude on the surveillance program.
“Well, I’m a supporter of the president, ” Ellison said, “but I really believe the executive branch needs to be under the oversight and supervision and close scrutiny of the legislative branch. I don’t care who’s president–if it’s Obama or Bush or Nixon or Clinton–we’ve got to make sure we know what they’re doing and we’re asking them the right questions and we’re getting honest answers.”
The latter was a reference to an exchange at a May 12th Senate hearing , in which Director National of National Intelligence James Clapper assured Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden that the government was “not wittingly” collecting the data of ordinary Americans. Clapper’s remarks have led to calls for him to resign.