Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Boehner: Obama ‘Must Not Allow Politics to Cloud His Judgment’ on NSA

While President Barack Obama is proposing a series of changes to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, Speaker John A. Boehner gave the suggestions a frosty reception and isn’t convinced they are needed.

In a brief statement on Friday afternoon, the Ohio Republican said Obama “must not allow politics to cloud his judgment” in making tweaks to the systems in place to keep Americans safe.

“The House will review any legislative reforms proposed by the administration,” Boehner said, “but we will not erode the operational integrity of critical programs that have helped keep America safe.”

Certain practices have come under fire after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information regarding the extent of mass data collection by the government. Some argue that such collection of meta data it constitutes a serious infringement on privacy and civil liberties.

“Our national security programs exist to root out terrorist threats and save American lives — and they have,” Boehner said. “Because the president has failed to adequately explain the necessity of these programs, the privacy concerns of some Americans are understandable.

“When considering any reforms, however, keeping Americans safe must remain our top priority,” Boehner continued. “When lives are at stake, the president must not allow politics to cloud his judgment. I look forward to learning more about how the new procedure for accessing data will not put Americans at greater risk.”

Obama’s announced his proposed changes on Friday morning, though the actual details — such as a plan to privatize the holding of telephone metadata, require judicial oversight of metadata searches, establish a new privacy advocate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, reduced spying on foreign leaders, and other measures — don’t seem to radically change the NSA’s reach.

Some of the pieces of Obama’s plan would require congressional action, including creating the architecture for having private companies keep telephone data for the government to mine and setting up the privacy advocate for the secret court.

Other House members on both sides of the aisle have weighed in on Obama’s announced changes, the scale and scope of which are not yet immediately known.

A theme was clear, however: As Boehner said, the House must be engaged.

“The president deserves credit for undertaking a thoughtful review of the National Security Agency’s intelligence gathering programs to strengthen both of those efforts,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md. “Congress must continue to play an important oversight role to verify that the rights of our citizens are not infringed upon.”

“President Obama says he’s listened to and consulted with experts and legislators and intends to enact reforms and expand executive oversight,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. “Some of his proposals I agree with, others I don’t. But the bottom line is real reform cannot be done by presidential fiat.”

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who has introduced legislation to declassify the so-called Black Budget, doesn’t think Obama’s directives go nearly far enough.

“While I appreciate the president’s effort to strike a better balance between the twin imperatives of protecting Americans from harm and ensuring their civil liberties, the steps he announced today fall short of reigning in the NSA,” he said.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

  • ivan

    Boehner is an interesting politician. His statements today about our president and politics is almost funny considering that Mr. Boehner has sucked up to the tea party for the past 5 years and holding. If anyone is playing at politics, it is Boehner. Nothing new here either, the republican house has voted against anything and everything brought up for a vote including their own ideas.

    • thorgodofthenorth

      You have to be the most misinformed person on earth.

      • ivan

        not sure what uninformed means to you. I follow what is done in both houses of congress. Also what these folks make claims of. Do I believe everything our president says….not likely, nor do I believe anything that the speaker of the houses makes claims of. Fact checking catches most all politicians in lies…and the republican party and the tea party group along with most all other politicians would croak on any truth.

        • thorgodofthenorth

          Boehner hates the Tea Party. He is out to destroy people that are concerned we are spending our children and grandchildren into slavery. That is where you are completely wrong. I agree with most of what you said other than that.

          • ivan

            If Boehner hates the tea party so much then why has he bowed down to their wants and ideas for the past 5 years other than he is afraid of then and their wealthy backers?
            The republican party has voted against nearly everything brought up for a vote and Boehner has kept many items from even coming to the house floor for a vote because of the tea party.

    • richard40

      You comment is a bit ironic, since I see constant comments from tea partiers who think Boehner has betrayed the tea party and hates them. If leftists like you hate Boehner for being pro tea party, and tea partiers hate hiim for being anti tea party, it indicates to me that what he is really trying to do is straddle the middle.

      • ivan

        And what is considered a “leftist” ? What is wrong with the middle ? Politicians are elected to work together for the nation as a whole. Not for one party or a minority. So far , I have seen little of that done . Nor do I condone one party planning to make sure our president fails as the republicans did.

        • richard40

          Somebody who wants more gov as a solution for everything (tax, spend, regulate) fits my definition of a leftist, although the proper definition is Statist, since Fascists are also in the more gov for every problem category. As for the middle, I don’t mind that much that Boehner is trying to seek the middle. I just wish there was somebody on the dem side that Boehner could meet there, since neither Obama or Reid are doing much to seek any middle.

          • ivan

            Boehner might find the middle if he walked away from r had control over the tea party who only see things one way. Granted, He once was considered to be more in the middle and had few problems working with other politicians . He seems however to be afraid of the tea party and the republican party as a whole is suffering or it.

          • richard40

            The tea party is a significant part of his caucus, perhaps even a majority of it, and it would be foolish of him to completely abandon them. That would probably cost him his speakership. His role is to try and get the tea party to compromise just as much as Obama/Reid compromise, so they can meet in the middle. But his job is pretty tough, since Obama/Reid know even less about compromise than the worst of the tea party.

          • ivan

            I agree with you that his job as speaker is tough. However, he was , before he became speaker, known for working with all politicians to compromise when needed. The tea party does not see anything in that light. And have forced him to change what were working ways to get things done for us all not just the few or minority of the tea party. In reality, neither party is all that great today at working for he majority of citizens. Both party’s are much more concerned with the wants of special interest groups that hand them tons of money. Most every bill passed by either house gives much more to the wealthy and big business than the voters who put them into office.

          • richard40

            I think a big part of the tea parties reluctance to compromise is they perceive no compromise of any kind coming from Obama, and therefore see compromise as capitulation. And they are constantly portrayed as extremists, but most of their positions, cutting spending, regulation, and taxes, are actually pretty mainstream conservative/libertarian positions. I don’t completely agree with them on not compromising, but I see very little give from Obama/Reid, and a lot of ruthless, hardball, and even totalitarian tactics from Obama/Reid. I think much of what you see as extremism in the tea party is in fact a reflection and reaction to Obama/Reid/dem extremism. I also see no giveways to the wealthy from the house, and would like to see you specifically list some. I do not see letting people keep their own money with lower general tax rates, or loosening some insane regulations holding back growth, as giveaways. I do see Obama doing some giveways to the wealthy though, with a lot of crony capitalist preferences for dem donors, and traditional dem supporters.

          • ivan

            Am wondering what part of compromise was there when Ted Cruz and the tea party pushed to shut down our government if they did not get what they wanted? Am also wondering what part of our constitution gave the republicans the right to decide not to vote on anything the democrats brought up as McConnell and others did when Obama was sworn in ? If the democrats had done the same thing the cry’s of foul would have been heard loudly all over this country.
            What regulations do you think should be cut? Who does those cuts help? I have seen no trickle down from any bill the republicans have passed or pushed for that have helped this nation as a whole. How about subsides…they are giveaways to big business ? Politicians from both sides have voted for those. Even expanded some when they could. Many politicians benefit from those themselves. I also have to wonder then, if republicans do not help the wealthy , then why are the majority of their donors, especially the tea party, big business and the wealthy?
            To call any politicians “ruthless” and not include republicans is funny., Are only Obama and the democrats the only ones Ruthless ? I must have missed something then when Ted Cruz and other tea party members were giving speeches that included no chance of compromise in them. So far I see no change from that .
            All politicians have one item in mind, re-election and will say and do whatever they think at the time will work for them.
            As for keeping my own money , would love to, but, I do not get the tax breaks benefits the wealthy get , neither do the majority of this country.

          • richard40

            Actually Boehner and the house did compromise during the shutdown, when pre shutdown the house backed off defunding and offered a 1 yr delay (which given the disastrous rollout would have helped everybody including Obama), and indicated they could negotiate for less. The Obama/Reid response was their absurd no negotiations with terrorists position, thereby starting the shutdown.
            And perhaps no repubs voted for Obamacare after Obama responded to some repub suggested changes, and repub warnings of coming policy cancellations by saying “we won, you lost, live with it”.
            What regs and gov should be cut, how about:
            1. Dodd/Frank, which is crippling credit markets, but doing zippo about the fundamental causes of he financial panic too big to fail, or Fannie Mae.
            2. The EPA, where they have high officials who get their kicks “crucifying” people, and who had a big LA developer have his entire land controlled by the gov, because of a a frog that has never lived in that land for 100 yrs or more.
            3. The EPA destroying our economy for a non-existent problem, global warming.
            4. The IRS persecuting Obamas political enemies, while wasting money on stupid videos and parties.
            5. The NSA spying on everybody.
            6. The DOJ spying on reporters.
            7. The education dept having their own SWAT team.
            8. DOJ letting guns go to Mexican Drug Lords, while trying to stop them from getting to honest US citizens.
            9. The civil rights division stopping voter id, while turning a blind eye to egregious vote fraud and voter suppression (against black and white voters)perpetrated by black machine politicians in black southern counties.
            10. Wasteful, corrupt, crony capitalist green subsidies.
            I have plenty of other examples of gross gov abuse of power and waste.

          • ivan

            Am wondering what part of pre shut down you refer to when the government did shut own and it cost this nation millions. AS for the health care issue, the republicans put in the most amendments to that one and claimed to still be against it even thought it was their idea to begin with. Romney used basically the same health care program for the state he was governor in . Only after Obama wanted to use it did it become bad.
            As for cutting banking regulations, why not, afte all the problems caused by banking in “07 and “08 , why not let them ruin the rest of the economy.
            EPA….cool, why do we al need clean air and unpolluted waters.?
            As for stupid party’s …. there are many of those given by most of our politicians from both party’s.
            The NSA I not a is a part of our government that is or has been allowed to do whatever, granted, it needs to be stopped.
            As for spying on reporters…would think that would be a waste of time, most of them have no idea what they are doing anyway except what they are told by their employers.
            Voter ID’s are an item the republicans have pushed to stop folks from voting.
            Subsidies, I totally agree with, they need to be stopped…but that comes from both party’s wanting to continue getting the funds big business hands out. And parting any congressman or woman from that money will be a hard one to get done.

          • richard40

            On the shutdown, as I said the house compromised on defunding 1 day before the shutdown, but Obama/Reid refused to accept that compromise, so they are in fact mainly at fault for the shutdown, not the house. Of course you will never hear that because leftist news outlets spread the lie that the tea party was totally at fault.
            On health care, Romneycare (not as intrusive as obamacare in many ways) was passed by an 85% dem legislature, in the most leftist state in the country, and even Romney himself said it should NOT be implemented at the fed level, but only at the state level. So it is a bit of a stretch to call Obamacare, opposed by every repub in the house and senate, and every repub presidential candidate, a mainsteam repub idea. I heard leftists like to blame repubs for Obamas failures, but that is ridiculous. Face it, Obamacare has totally failed, and should be repealed.
            The financial crisis was caused just as much by big gov programs like fannie mae and the community redevelopment act, as by incompetent regulation. I would not remove all regulation, but redirect it, so business has more latitude and less paperwork, but taxpayers face less risk. I would change Too Big To Fail (which Dodd/Frank did zippo about) by removing the regs on conduct, but requiring the bigger entities to have much better debt to equity ratios, so they can no longer overleverage. This would encourage smaller entities we CAN afford to let fail, and also ensure that if a big entity does fail, all of the bath is taken by the shareholders, not taxpayers. I don’t mind if businesses take risks and fail, it is part of the free market, as long as taxpayers are no longer at risk for it. It is naieve anyway to assume gov regulators will stop the next bubble. Far better to just assume bubbles will happen, and just make sure taxpayers are no longer on the hook for them.
            As for the EPA, I support reasonable enforcement against real pollution, where somebody dumps a chemical know to be harmful to life in our air or rivers. But banning CO2 is total BS, it is not pollution since we exhale it each day, it is plant food. Also the endangered species act and the wetlands regs have gotten totally out of hand, and undermine property rights, while doing little to actually help endangered species or real wetlands. And the whole attitude at the EPA has gotten out of hand, with an attitude not to stop real pollution, but to get people, for any violation, no matter if it actually does real environmental harm, and often in response to corrupt crony capitalist preferences.
            I am glad you agree with me on Obamas gross abuses in the NSA, IRS, DOJ, and crony capitalism. He is completely corrupt, as is most of his party, and needs to change.

          • ivan

            The compromise you refer to was a bill that was already a law, the health care item. I have or have not found one that was changed in this way as the tea part was pushing for. their so called compromise was my way or shut down, which was done. And that cost this nation as a whole lots of money that he republican tea party cared little about.
            As for your Romney care…most of the folks in that state , from what I have read, enjoy that health care , interesting tat because it was expanded to cover the USA it became a bad item for Romney. Lets also note that the republicans put about 60 or so amendments to the health care issue before it was passed.
            I do think that some failures were created by republican governors who refused to do their part with the health care law that was passed. Notice that the states that worked with the issue have had a good turnout . I also find it interesting that these same governors did not want Medicare or Medicaid used in their states to help their own citizens. For instance, the Florida governor now is explaining badly why he would not allow it. Why would any governor not want to help their own? Other than pressure by a party who only wans to see Obama fail ? I notice that you made no comment on McConnell and others in the republican party meeting and deciding to do whatever necessary to ensure Obama failed as president . If the democrats had done that every republican in this nation would have had a fit. But the republicans doing it was fine.
            As with all laws passed, it is not any president who writes any laws, it is those elected to serve in both houses of congress. If there is a failure it is the voters who ailed by re-electing the same ones over and over into congress who have no problem accepting any and all funds they can get from lobbyist , the wealthy and big business.

          • richard40

            There have been frequent occasion in the past when riders were attached to the debt ceiling, but both parties, that is another lie that the repubs did something unprecedented. And as I said, the repubs compromised once, and Boehner stated he would negotiate for less, so why didn’t Obama at least negotiate, and only when negotiations broke down give up and shutdown the gov. In fact once Obama/Reid did give the goahead to compromise, the senate cmprimise bill passed both houses, and the shutdown ended, on terms Obama could have gotten weeks earlier if not for his absurd no compromise position. I will not say the repubs were blameless, but neither were Obama Reid, I rate blame equally, or slightly more for Reid/Obama.

            And good lord, blaming repub governors for the failure of Obamacare, is there nothing you guys wont blame on somebody else, isn’t Obama responsible for anything. Next you will be blaming obamacare on Bush or Romney. Obama, the finger pointer and buck passer in chief.

            On romneycare (which is really Massachussetscare), as I said it is reasonable at the state level, in a leftist state, since conservatives who oppose it can leave the state. But why don’t you guys keep your leftist garbage in your leftist states, why inflict it on the rest of us at the fed level.

          • ivan

            Both party’s have and continue to place riders on most bills passed. I still do not get Boehner’s compromise when it was the tea party controlling what he did and said concerning the shut down. I still have not found any laws that were passed changed after the fact. And if this health care issue is so bad why are so many signing up for it now?
            Why are only Obama’s ideas considered bad ? What is “leftist” about wanting what is good for the nation rather than the few ? And for your info, I am not leftist in any way. Could care less bout either party. All politicians are elected to serve us all. SO far neither party can actually say thy uphold that idea.
            AS for republican governors not working with the health care issue even though it would help many of their own citizens..yea, I do place some blame on them. After all they also were elected to work for the voters, not the party.
            Considering you agree that both party’s are blameless then why does it seem that all real blame always goes to Obama. Both party’s are suppose to work together, I have yet o see the tea party group do that. Even main stream republicans are having a problem with their ” the tea party’s ” ideas.
            As for your Romney care….you might ask the folks in that state what they think of that health care issue today since it works for them. I have to guess then it is fine to be paying for heath care for those who do not have that now every time they go to the hospital for anything while your taxes pay for it as you do today.

          • richard40

            “I still do not get Boehner’s compromise when it was the tea party controlling what he did and said concerning the shut down” The compromise was prior to the shutdown Boehner had already backed off the defunding, and offered a 1 yr delay, and indicated he was willing to negotiate for less. Boehner was representing the entire repub house caucus, and the tea party is only about 30-40% of that. It was Obamas/Reids total rejection of any compromise that caused the shutdown. I don’t agree that Obama is only to blame either, Reid also bears a big share of the blame, since his senate actually cast the vote that killed the house bill and shutdown the gov. Even the tea party deserves some blame (although they had already compromised on their defunding demand). The only one in the whole mess that did NOT seem to want a shutdown was Boehner, who constantly begged for negotiations, as Obama and Reid said no negotiations with terrorists, and absurd position, since our own gov are not terrorists.
            As for leftist, since almost everything you advocate is for more gov spending and regulation, except possibly for military, you sure sound leftist to me.
            Again it is pretty pathetic to blame repub governors for obamas failing website, the forced cancellations, the high deductibles, the lousy networks, and other obamacare failures they had nothing to do with.
            I consider Obamas ideas to be bad when they are bad, which unfortunately is most of the time.
            As for obamacare signups, they are still way below projections, and as of now more people have had cancelled policies, than there have been new signups, thus so far Obamacare is doing a great job on uninsuring people.
            On romneycare, if the people of MA like it, fine for them, they can keep it. I just don’t want the dems to inflict it on the rest of us. It should have been a state by state decision.

          • ivan

            And what the offered compromise by the tea party ? Stopping sign ups for a year ? AS for Boehner representing all republicans, he missed that one since many main stream republicans did not agree with him.
            Interesting, Obama and Reid are the only ones responsible for anything. Evidently the repub’s can do not wrong. It must have been fine with you then when the republican leaders met and decided to vote against everything the dem’s or Obama brought up.
            as for the health care issue, let us not forget that the republicans put 60 or so amendments t5o that issue themselves. This was not just a democratic item both party’s put in words to it.
            As for sign ups, interesting that republicans are complaining so much when their idea on mediciad when passed also ad problems getting started by that was fine then.
            AS for the senate killing bills brought up from the house, at last they were brought up to a vote which is more than Boehner did in the house.
            Why is it bad to place some blame on republican governors if they would not allow or be a part of the health care issue only because they were republicans ?I have to guess that people living in their states were not worthy of health care.
            Do you consider any of the republican ideas to be bad ?
            Actually, I could care less about either party since they all accept funds from wealthy folks and big business and are always passing bills that benefit them only.

          • richard40

            Given the disastrous obamacare rollout, a 1 yr delay would have saved everybody, including Obama, a lot of grief, he should have taken that compromise. And even after that compromise, Boehner indicated he was willing to negotiate further, which Reid/Obama refused to do. And what compromise did Reid/Obama ofer on the shutdown, none, it was their original bill, my way or the highway.
            Obama, and apparently you, seem to blame repubs for everything, I am just returning the favor. I even stated that the tea party deserved part of the blame for the shutdown, along with Obama/Reid, but you refused to concede even that.
            You claim Reid brought every bill up for a vote, he did not, he often kills house bills without a vote.
            The 60 amendments were mostly technical, with broad support, or else were things the dems could not afford t vote against. None of them involved any real compromise on the core of Obamacare, otherwise some of them would have gotten repub votes in exchange.
            And I repeat, blaming repub governors for the obamacare failure is incredibly lame, since the main problems, the botched website, high costs, high deductables, narrow networks, and cancelled policies, the repub governors had nothing at all to do with.
            As for claiming to not care about either party, you seem to spend a lot of time defending Obama, and attacking repubs, methinks the leftie dem doth protest too much.

          • ivan

            protesting too much is an interesting thing for you to say considering you back up the republicans no matter what. Lets not forget that it was Ted Cruz who brought up the shut down with tea party backing. It as also Cruz who stated first that
            I have to assume then that the republican governors have nothing to do with the welfare of their citizens . I also assume then that you think Boehner brought up every bill that came from the senate .
            There are enough failures t go around for sure in both party’s. I do find it interesting that other nations can afford health care for their own citizens while I guess the USA can not. Claiming the 60 amendments were “mostly” technical is also interesting since it added to the problems to begin with.
            I did not claim that Reid brought up every bill for a vote , he did not however refuse to bring up any that came for the house as Boehner did from the senate. Some were not voted on for sure…and granted they should have been in the senate..but that is also true for both houses.
            As for the rollout of the health care issue, sure it had problems..but then most new laws do have them as I stated before with Medicaid when the republicans go that through congress and look at the numbers of folks that helped. I guess would have been interesting to have seen so many complain about it as has happened with this issue. Interesting too is the fact that there are people now who will not be kept from getting insurance that before could not. I also see you did not comment on the republican agreeing not to vote for anything that Obama came up with idea wise so I have to assume that any political party now can stop this nation from moving forward whenever they want to. gee, I don’t like this president so we can vote down everything whether it helps this nation or not.
            All politicians are elected to work for us all. Not for one party or one minority but for us all. Congress has not done that in many a year.
            AS for he health are issue, I think it is wrong for insurance companies to decline anyone for insurance as they have done for way too many years. I also think it is wrong for just anyone to go to a hospital for health care because they do not want to pay for it while the tax payers get stuck with their bills as happens today.

  • Beeker

    the Ohio Republican said Obama “must not allow politics to cloud his
    judgment” in making tweaks to the systems in place to keep Americans

    “Our national security programs exist to root out terrorist threats
    and save American lives — and they have,” Boehner said. “Because the
    president has failed to adequately explain the necessity of these
    programs, the privacy concerns of some Americans are understandable.

    Speaker Boehner should be the one to talk about politics clouding the President’s judgment when it is he’s the one who has let politics dictate what the House should do. Not one person have provided evidence that national security programs exist to save American live except for a few while keeping the rest secret. The only people who supports the program is Mike Rogers even he has not adequately provided proof as well.

  • A Taxpayer

    Mr. Boehner, as a Republican I wish you would keep your big mouth shut. I resent your comments and vehemently disagree with them. I pray that you are replaced as House Speaker. Sir, you frighten me. Unlike you, I believe the Founders would be outraged with this expansion of government. I know that I am. Unlike you I do not think the government should be spying on every US citizen at all times. Your comments reinforce my belief that just about every single member of Congress should be voted out of office, regardless of party.

  • The truth is that …

    While the actions available to states using democratic processes are restricted compared to those subjected to totalitarian regimes, the benefits of democratic methods are revealed over the long term.

  • Six Edits

    As knowledge grows, the smaller the fraction of knowledge that our own mind can absorb & the more relatively ignorant each of us becomes.

  • starrbux

    In part, escapist fantasies regarding the utopian lifestyle of the mythical noble savage motivate people to chase illusions such as socialism, communism, and the welfare state.

  • One Thirsty Bear

    Since it is impossible to know which practices will be best suited for unpredictable future circumstances, we mainly depend upon the customs and traditions that have already been proven in the fires of history’s forge.

  • alohatime

    Speaker Boehner, (hopefully Mr John Boehner (Bartender soon), has ZERO, nada, no credibility to remotely suggest any politician should not make an issue “political”, and Roll Call, you suck at calling him out on this blatant hypocrisy, ie “amnesty”, Cruz and Obamacare, King and a**hole? There are far few WORSE political games played than speaker boehner ‘plays’ with my livelihood, of trying to be a free American.. (no caps for a reason). You disgust me.

  • coffeeHouse1982

    Unlike socialist quacks, individualists searched for institutions that would voluntarily motivate individuals to unleash their potential.

  • richard40

    Obama always has politics warp his judgement, in fact with Obama politics is the only factor in his judgement. But given that, I am more on Obamas side on this one, since I think the NSA could use some more restrictions.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...