Congressmen discount politics in embassy closures

Aug. 4, 2013 at 1:02 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A U.S. lawmaker Sunday discounted the idea that the terror alert in the Middle East was being played up to divert criticism over intelligence eavesdropping.

Rep. C.A. Ruppersberger, D-Md., said on ABC's "This Week" the National Security Agency was simply doing its job when it uncovered disturbing intelligence that led to Sunday's closure of U.S. embassies and consulates in North Africa and the Middle East.

"The bottom line is, is that the NSA's job is to do foreign intelligence," said Ruppersberger, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "The whole purpose is to collect information to protect us."

Ruppersberger said he was convinced after a series of hearings into the Edward Snowden leaks that the NSA was following the law in its use of so-called metadata surveillance. "What we're trying to do now is to get the American public to know more about what's going on," he said. "The NSA is following the law and we have checks and balances."

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who is also on the Intelligence Committee, told ABC he agreed with the embassy closure as a precaution and did not see it as an over-reaction by the Obama administration, which was stung by criticism it had ignored dire warning ahead of last fall's al-Qaida raid on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

"They would be derelict if they were not," said King. "We can't criticize them for doing too little with Benghazi and now criticize them for doing too much. I'm going to give them credit, they've learned from Benghazi."

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