Transcript: Rep. Mike Pompeo’s Q&A with DNI James Clapper & NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander on surveillance programs – Oct. 29, 2013

Partial transcript of Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-Kansas) Q&A with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander on NSA’s surveillance programs before the House Intelligence Committee on Oct. 29, 2013:

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas):
…There’s been a suggestion with respect to the FISA court – Mr. Cole you talked about it – that there would be this ombudsman. We’d put somebody there that would act in a third-party capacity. I have two questions about that. One is as a practical matter, who would the client be? Because I’d assume this would be a lawyer. And second, where in our constitutional framework would we place this person if we were going to try to put someone there to protect this notion of privacy?

Deputy Attorney General James Cole:
Well, I think you’ve hit two of the difficult constitutional issues. The ones of standing, of whether or not that ombudsman as a permanent position within the FISA court could have standing and where they would fit within the three branches of government.

The suggestion that we have looked at and thought might be the most useful is a case-by-case determination by the court of appointing an amicus to raise a point of view that may not be raised by the parties that are before the court, be it a single party or –

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas):
…Do they have the capacity to do that today? Article III judges will do that from time to time in other context. Do the FISA court judges have the capacity to ask for additional professional help? I think that’s what you’re suggesting.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole:
Yes, I believe that they do. And I’ve seen it in a number of other courts including the Supreme Court of the United States where they’ve done that.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas):
…Gen. Alexander, we’ve talked about putting this metadata someplace else – putting it in a place that’s outside the government. It’s odd. Oftentimes, I sit on another committee where members of Congress are trying desperately to make sure those firms don’t keep that data for other purposes…because there can be inadvertent releases…What powers would you have to make sure that these providers provide an appropriate level of security for this data? That is, if we told them to hold on to data. Today you have the ability to put in processes to secure it. If it’s in this other place that’s outside of your control, what authority would you have to make sure that they protect that data in a sufficient way?

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander:
I think that something that we’d have to work with the court and with Congress to make sure that that’s put in the statute – the way that we protect it and under what conditions and authorities it could be accessed. We talked briefly about that yesterday with a group. The concern would be to then who could actually go in and do a grand jury subpoena to that data. Is there other means who could get access to it? So that’s a concern I think people have expressed interests on.

If I could, I just wanted to say one thing. I saw you on TV a couple of months ago. [Overlapping audio] Because I think it’s for this committee and for the American people an important point: You know, we’re talking about something here that’s incredibly important to our country – how do we continue to – and all of you across both sides of the aisle…have together stood and said “We’ve got to do what’s right for the country.” When everybody was slamming something, saying “I didn’t know about it”, “I didn’t know about the – “, you stepped forward and said, “I did. We looked at it. We did this right.” And even though it was unpopular to do, as you and other members of the committee have all stood up and done that and I think that’s huge and what our nation expects of our congressional members and us to stand up for it…


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