Shortly before the August recess, Alan Grayson and a bipartisan group of his fellow members of congress organized a hearing at which critics of the NSA’s surveillance practices would finally have their concerns voiced.
Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald was scheduled to appear at the hearing (via video link), as was former NSA intelligence official Bill Binney. But the big fish, as far as members of Congress were concerned, was Richard Clarke, chairman of the Counter-terrorism Security Group and a member of the National Security Group.
Almost immediately after the hearing was announced, however, Clarke withdrew. As Yves Smith reported:
[Clarke] initially claimed to have developed a scheduling conflict, but it became clear he’d gotten the Elizabeth Warren treatment from the Administration, of being offered an undisclosed goodie (not of monetary value, but of participation in an insider process) and he was told that participating in this session would preclude his involvement in the other initiative.
The hearing itself was preempted when Obama held his nose and called a sudden meeting with all the Democrats on the Hill that could only take place at the same time the Grayson meeting was scheduled.
“I’m told that Obama’s gambit is obvious to everyone on the Hill,” reports Yves.
The NSA hearing is currently being rescheduled for some time in September when congress is back in session. Ironically, pushing it into September has only insured that the constant drip-drip-drip of NSA revelations will make it even higher profile (and potentially more explosive) when it finally happens.
Sadly, it won’t include the testimony of the aforementioned Mr. Clarke, who suddenly found himself with Much More Important Things To Do.
Et tu, Richard Clarke?
Photo of Richard Clarke by the Center for American Progress under Creative Commons License