Senate Democrat lashes out at Obama Administration’s surveillance tactics

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) lashed out at the Obama administration on Friday in the moments after President Obama's news conference, saying it isn't listening to lawmakers' feedback about its surveillance programs.

"The administration hasn't listened at all," Merkley said on MSNBC. "We've asked for the rulings of the (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court ... about how it interprets the laws that Congress has passed to be declassified so that we can have a conversation with the American people about that."

Merkley said that without disclosing such information, average people may conclude that there is no legal basis for what the administration doing.

"Clearly the administration has not followed what an ordinary person would consider to be the standard of the law here," Merkley said.

Merkley said he was briefed on the monitoring of Internet records, but only when he asked about it. He does not sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose members Obama said Friday were informed of the program.

"I knew about the program because I specifically sought it out," Merkley said, calling the surveillance of Internet and phone records "a broad vacuum sweeping up data across America."

Merkley was also critical of Obama's news conference, saying he has taken the whole thing "very lightly."

"I think there are many pieces of this that the president glossed over," Merkley said.

Updated at 3:57 p.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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