Last week The Hill reported that, despite the NSA domestic spying scandal making big headlines and grabbing the attention of American citizens, most US Senators chose to skip out of Washington DC early rather than attend a briefing on the intelligence programs.
The Senate held its last vote of the week a little after noon on Thursday, and many lawmakers were eager to take advantage of the short day and head back to their home states for Father’s Day weekend.
Only 47 of 100 senators attended the 2:30 briefing, leaving dozens of chairs in the secure meeting room empty as Clapper, Alexander and other senior officials told lawmakers about classified programs to monitor millions of telephone calls and broad swaths of Internet activity. The room on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center is large enough to fit the entire Senate membership, according to a Senate aide.
The Hill reported that the weren’t provided with a list of Senators who did attend. I’ve confirmed that both of North Dakota’s Senators were in attendance.
“Yes, John did go to this briefing Thursday,” Senator John Hoeven’s spokesman Don Cantor told me in an email.
“Senator Heitkamp attended the NSA briefing last Thursday,” Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s Press Secretary Todd Deutsch told me in an email.
However Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp respond to the NSA scandal, it’s heartening to know they are at least taking the issue seriously enough to learn more about what the NSA is doing.