GOP? The NSA may actually be the biggest winner in the election

November 12, 2014

Buried in all the armchair political analysis over the past week was the important and overlooked fact that spy agencies may benefit most from the new GOP majority on the Hill.

Over the past year there has been a steady drumbeat from Senate Democrats on the abuse of power from the NSA and CIA. From slamming the NSA for foreign spying to spying on the Senate Intel Committee itself (who can forget the Senate staffer snatching CIA documents), Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, though traditionally a supporter of the NSA, has been making heads of three letter agencies sweat and their congressional affairs mutter four letter words.

Last week’s results will end much of this public combativeness in 2015 as Senator Feinstein loses her gavel and as one of the Senate’s most vocal opponent to the NSA’s surveillance program, Colorado Senator Mark Udall, lost his race for reelection. While there have been some outspoken critics of agency actions and policies on the right, Senate Republicans on the Intel Committee will take a very different rhetorical approach and investigative style than their counterparts.

Senator Richard Burr, the likely incoming Senate Intelligence Chairman, is a thoughtful, serious, policymaker who believes his job is to get things done rather than get on the news. There will no doubt be rigorous oversight and debates over intelligence gathering policies, but Senator Burr’s approach will be to deal with them in house rather than create a media circus.

There will also no doubt be a change of priorities on the Committee. With the Islamic State continuing to pose a threat, and as Russia, China and North Korea seem to have stepped up aggressive acts and policies, there will be a greater and more intense focus on how we can increase our intelligence capabilities rather than question them.

There were a lot of cheers in Republican offices and homes across the country Tuesday night. But the loudest may have come from folks at Fort Meade, Langley, and the shadows across the globe.

 

Sue Myrick was a Member of Congress from 1995 to 2013. She served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2009 to 2013 and chaired the Subcommittee on Terrorism, HUMINT, Analysis, and Counterintelligence from 2011 to 2013.

Andy Polk was the director of the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus from 2009-2011. He served as a senior advisor to Rep. Myrick from 2002-2011. He is currently Vice President for FDRA, a footwear trade association.