One of the many sticking points Americans have with the NSA's just-revealed massive spying operation, is that the NSA had repeatedly lied about the scope of the programs to congress, and many senators and congress members were taken off-guard (or at least acted like it) by last week's revelations.
So when the NSA finally decided to hold a classified briefing about their spying program, one could imagine that members of the Senate would make sure to be there, so they could learn how the programs are helping (or not) fight terrorism. Unfortunately, only 47 of the 100 senators came to the briefing on Thursday afternoon, the rest opting to take advantage of the long Father's Day weekend.
The briefing was being done by James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, and Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, along with other security officials. They briefed a whole lot of empty chairs in the secure, bug-proof room.
“It’s hard to get this story out. 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,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
It's especially hard for Senators to vote in support of spying programs they've never been briefed on, and yet they do it all the time.