The First Amendment has the power to pry the lid off government skulduggery.
Last week, a little noticed clash took place on Capitol Hill involving the fundamental values underlying the First Amendment. The issue was the lawfulness of publishing the secrets that were given to reporters by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
Mr. Rogers is the chief congressional apologist for the massive NSA spying apparatus. He is the current chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and in that capacity, he is one of the dozen members of Congress from both houses who were privy to much of the NSA spying before the Snowden revelations.
In our perverse post-September 11 world, federal law actually permits this Gang of 12 to substitute for all 535 members of Congress with respect to knowledge of intelligence secrets.
Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have succeeded in claiming they have congressional consent for the massive NSA spying by merely getting a consensus from the Gang of 12.
There is, of course, no provision in the Constitution for the substitution of all 535 members of Congress with a select group of 12 of them, but Congress and Presidents Bush and Obama have gone along with this