When reporters ask the White House about the NSA program that secretly collects “phone call records of tens of millions of Americans,” administration officials insist that they “cannot confirm or deny the claims in the USA Today story.”
Apparently, someone forgot to send the talking points to Senate Intelligence Committee member Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Here’s how Hatch responded to a question “about recent reports of the government compiling lists of Americans’ phone calls”:
Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that at least two of the chief judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been informed since 2001 of White House-approved National Security Agency monitoring operations.
“None raised any objections, as far as I know,” said Hatch, a member of a special Intelligence Committee panel appointed to oversee the NSA’s work.
By answering the reporter’s question directly, Hatch confirmed the program’s existence. This isn’t the first time Hatch has let classified information slip. From a September 2001 Chicago Tribune report:
A senior senator’s disclosure of highly classified information about the U.S. terrorism investigation has infuriated Bush administration officials and led to a clampdown on how much the White House will share with lawmakers.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters hours after terrorists crashed hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that U.S. intelligence had intercepted a telephone call from a suspect reporting to his handler that the targets in New York City and near Washington had been hit.