Sen. Coburn: Every Federal Program Needs Same Scrutiny as Phone, Email Surveillance Programs

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in his office on Capitol Hill. (Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

Congressional Republicans don’t agree with Democratic President Barack Obama on much. But when it comes to the controversial intelligence community programs that gather reams of U.S. citizens’ telephone and email traffic, they are aligned with Obama.

Not only do most Republicans on the Hill want the spy programs kept alive, one prominent GOP senator says the efforts should be used as models for every federal program.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is a prominent conservative voice in the upper chamber on budget and spending matters. He’s considered by some in Washington as a leading Senate GOP deficit hawk, and will be a major player in a coming effort to strike a “grand bargain” fiscal deal that would lessen or void the remaining nine years of sequestration. And he is a big fan of the intelligence community’s anti-terrorism phone and email surveillance programs.

During a Tuesday morning appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Coburn said the surveillance programs are among the best managed and most scrutinized of all federal programs. For instance, Coburn noted the programs are reviewed twice monthly by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The conservative Oklahoman said each and every federal program should be subject to the same kind of oversight. While that simply isn’t going to happen, one thing is for sure: the telephone and email surveillance efforts are here to stay.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett