R.K.: The rest of the members of the committee get nothing or very little?
W.B.: Right, until just recently, like the last six years I think they have been aware of most of the programs now but that didn't come until the exposure and all that in the New York Times and also the exposure in 2004 in the Department of Justice, okay?
R.K.: Now you're talking specifically about this NSA collection of information about Americans but in general, is it still the policy in congress that only the two chairs on the House and the Senate are the ones who are briefed by these spy agencies?
W.B.: Well actually it comes down to how they classify a program. Like, the spying on US Citizens was classified as a covert program, now under that classification as a covert program they can limit knowledge of congress to the gang of eight.
They don't have to do the gang of eight as they didn't with this NSA program but the gang of eight is the chair and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, the ones we've been talking about, and then the minority and the majority leaders of the House and Senate, republican and democrat leaders in the House and Senate, that makes up the gang of eight. But in this case of course when they first started, they only briefed the four members of the Intelligence Committees, ranking and chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
So they don't have to include the gang of eight but they can restrict it to the gang of eight, and that limits knowledge of congress to only key members of congress.
R.K.: And this is particularly how it is with covert operations?
W.B.: Right, that's correct. And if you look at the letter that Jane Harman sent to President Bush in January of 2006, right after the disclosure of the program, she told in that letter that he was in violation of the Intelligence Act of 1947 which was defining covert programs, in other words she was saying this is a collection program, you can't define it as a covert program and therefore you can't limit the knowledge to the gang of eight.
R.K.: So they were violating the constitution by using spin basically? And framing?
W.B.: Yes, correct.
R.K.: Wow. So you went to the House Intelligence Committee and you told them there's a problem and what kind of response did you get when it was brought to Pelosi and who was the republican who was in charge there again? What's his name?
W.B.: Well Porter Goss was the chair but the staffer that I went to was the republican staffer, that was Diane Roark -
R.K.: Diane Roark.
W.B.: and she went to Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi and they referred her to General Hayden and he just told her to keep quiet about it, you know? That's all. So it was like, keep quiet, hush up and go about your business, don't pay any attention to this. Like pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, we're only doing secret things that you wouldn't like if you knew about them so just go away and be happy.
R.K.: So would you speculate that that's the kind of treatment at best that Ed Snowden would have gotten?
W.B.: Actually that would have been great if he got that kind of treatment but what he would have gotten was something like, well I mean for the exposure that he gave out he couldn't stick around in this country because he would have been treated like Chelsea Manning, put in isolation and perhaps going through various forms of torture like isolation.