The recent briefing held by senior intelligence officials on surveillance last Thursday was nothing short of a huge flop. Supposedly, this briefing was a chance for members of Congress to gain further insight into the program and to voice their opinions on the matter. Instead, only 47 out of the 100 senators decided to sit in on the brief, while the rest did not even attempt to pretend like they cared about this large privacy dilemma that our nation is currently facing.
We witnessed several senators react against the NSA's actions, particularly Rand Paul, Colorodo Senator Udall (D), and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D). However, even if we do not know exactly who did and did not attend the briefing, the fact that a little less than half of all Senators took the time to attend this important talk nearly negates any of the work that some have done to push for the protection of our privacy.
The briefing was held on a Thursday after their last vote of the week, which would and should not have been a major inconvenience for any of them. But, of course, taking their flights home much earlier than necessary proved to be much more important for them than fulfilling their duties as senators.
"It's hard to get this story out," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in response to the poor attendance. "Even now we have this big briefing — we've got Alexander, we've got the FBI, we've got the Justice Department, we have the FISA court there, we have Clapper there — and people are leaving."
While I vehemently disagree with Senator Feinstein's stance on NSA surveillance as she supports the program and defends its legality, she is right that it is difficult to spread the information and make an impact when no one actually cares enough to put in any effort.
This behavior from the majority of the Senate just goes to show that most of our senators are not truly interested in figuring out a solution for what is currently one of our nation's biggest issues that needs to be resolved. Most importantly, this behavior shows that there is a lack of accountability and communication between citizens and their senators. While senators are demonstrating a lack of responsibility towards their constituents, the constituents must fight back and express that the behavior that occurred on Thursday is not acceptable.
In fact, it is insulting to those who have put faith in their representatives and have trusted them to do their jobs well and for the good of the people. We do not vote senators into office just so that they may make an appearance when mandatory or just attend events only if those events fulfill their personal interests. Senators exist to listen to and voice the concerns of his or her constituents and we must be sure to speak out against such apathy in D.C. concerning the NSA's misdeeds.