Representative Mike Rogers (U.S. Rep. R-MI-8) chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He's also one of the last people we want representing U.S. interests abroad. This week, he managed to offend the European Parliament by threatening U.S.-E.U. trade talks if the Parliament decides to go ahead with planned testimony from U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden. More after the break.
Rogers was in Europe with a U.S. delegation.
Rogers stated that his views on Snowden were "not fit to print" and that it was "beneath the dignity" of the Parliament to invite Snowden to speak. He also implied that an invitation to speak could threaten the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), thought to benefit the E.U. economy by €119 billion a year and the U.S. economy by $130 billion a year.
"I personally do not believe it rises to the dignity of this body...I do believe that this would have a reaction in the United States that would not be helpful to a constructive dialogue as we continue to work out our differences."European officials surprisingly did not take kindly to U.S. Representatives attempting to dictate who they could listen to in their own Parliament.
European Vice-Chair of Civil Liberties Sophie In't Veld reported that behind closed doors, visiting U.S. politicians had described Snowden as a traitor and attempted to put pressure on MEPs not to invite him to give a video address.
"It's incredible. They came here to warn us not to speak to him 'or else.' Well, we in the Parliament damn well decide ourselves who to speak to,"The best part: Snowden wouldn't even be there; the Parliament is planning on showing a prerecorded Q&A session. That's right, Rogers is jeopardizing a $130 billion a year trade deal over a video.
It's clear that Representative Rogers has it in for Edward Snowden, and Rogers also has a long history of acting as an NSA apologist.
Some notable incidents:
October 3rd, 2013, Brendan Sasso of the hill reports that former NSA boss Michael Hayden and Rep. Rogers joked about putting Snowden on a kill list:
"I must admit, in my darker moments over the past several months, I'd also thought of nominating Mr. Snowden, but it was for a different list," Hayden said during a panel discussion on cybersecurity hosted by The Washington Post.On October 27th, he came to the defense of the NSA again during a CNN interview by absurdly claiming that Europe should actually be grateful for NSA surveillance:
The audience laughed, and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was also on the panel, responded, "I can help you with that."
If the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks. It's a good thing. It keeps the French safe. It keeps the U.S. safe. It keeps our European allies safe. This whole notion that we're going to go after each other on what is really legitimate protection of nation-state interest, I think is disingenuous.Perhaps Rogers most famous moment came during a House Intelligence Committee hearing two days later concerning NSA surveillance. First, Rogers tried to stack the panel. He invited former Homeland Security official Stewart Baker, whom I have written about previously, and also invited conservative superstar lawyer Steven G. Bradbury. Bradbury's biography reads like a conservative wet dream:
- Law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court of the United States
- Head of the Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) of the U.S. Department of Justice under George Bush during the infamous Torture Memos incident
- Moved to private practice where he somehow managed to check all of the boxes:
- Defended U.S. Airways and other companies against anti-trust actions
- Challenged the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules under the Clean Air Act
- Represented "various financial industry associations and companies" against Dodd-Frank provisions
- Challenged the Health Care Law
- Lead consul to Morgan Stanley during class-action suits against it
The only one representing an alternative viewpoint was Stephen I. Vladeck, a law Professor at the American University's Washington College of Law. It was during an exchange with Professor Vladeck that Rep. Rogers came up with this gem:
Rogers: I would argue the fact that we haven't had any complaints come forward with any specificity arguing that their privacy has been violated, clearly indicates, in ten years, clearly indicates that something must be doing right. Somebody must be doing something exactly right.Thank goodness the Europeans now have someone that can come over and tell them how they should feel about being spied on, and threaten over $100 billion dollars in trade agreements if they let the whistle-blower behind the leaks speak.
Vladeck: But who would be complaining?
Rogers: Somebody who's privacy was violated. You can't have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated.