The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Was Congress kept in the dark about Section 215? Not quite.

Amid the ongoing controversy over the administration's surveillance programs, many are asking to what extent Congress was kept in the loop. Now there's a partial answer: National security officials briefed lawmakers 13 times between 2009 and 2013 about Section 215 of the Patriot Act, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of some of the meetings.

Officials -- including assistant attorney general David Kris, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of the U.S. cyber command, and Todd Hinnen, acting assistant attorney general for national security -- testified at six different hearings about Patriot Act reauthorization. There were two classified meetings, on Nov. 29, 2010 and March 15, 2011. FBI director Robert Mueller spoke about the program in the context of the Patriot Act's 2011 reauthorization in separate briefings in to the House Republican Conference and the House Democratic Caucus, on May 13, 2011 and May 24, 2011, respectively.