Washington, DC ¬- Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on the Bush administration’s consultation with Congress on their secret surveillance program:
“The President asserted in his December 17th radio address that “leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it.” This statement gives the American public a very misleading impression that the President fully consulted with Congress.
“First, it is quite likely that 96 Senators of 100 Senators, including 13 of 15 on the Senate Intelligence Committee first learned about this program in the New York Times, not from any Administration briefing.
“I personally received a single very short briefing on this program earlier this year prior to its public disclosure. That briefing occurred more than three years after the President said this program began.
“The Administration briefers did not seek my advice or consent about the program, and based on what I have heard publicly since, key details about the program apparently were not provided to me.
“Under current Administration briefing guidelines, members of Congress are informed after decisions are made, have virtually no ability to either approve or reject a program, and are prohibited from discussing these types of programs with nearly all of their fellow members and all of their staff.
“We need to investigate this program and the President’s legal authority to carry it out. We also need to review this flawed congressional consultation system. I will be asking the President to cooperate in both reviews.”