WASHINGTON , Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The White House “played the fear card” to get Democrats in Congress to pass legislation broadening the government’s power to wiretap, a leading Democrat said.
Senior U.S. intelligence startled members of Congress at a closed-door meeting in July, claiming that the government surveillance program was only collecting 25 percent of the foreign-based communications it had been gathering just a few months earlier, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The officials urged Congress to act quickly to correct what they depicted as a dangerous situation.
The contention was part of a series of events that culminated with last week’s legislative victory for the White House, the newspaper said.
Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., told the Times the White House “very skillfully played the fear card” to win passage of the bill.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., called the White House strategy “an intentional manipulation of the facts.”
Feingold -- a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who voted against the bill -- said the White House “has identified the one major remaining weakness in the Democratic Party, and that’s its unwillingness to stand up to the administration when it’s making a power grab regarding terrorism and national security.”