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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 10th, 2013
07:30 PM ET

Analysis: The truth about briefing Congress

Another day, another leak, another potential scandal, but this time, President Barack Obama is not facing the kind of blow back he did after the Benghazi and the IRS stories broke. And maybe it's because when it comes to data mining in the name of national security, the majority of Republicans are on his side.

"The NSA is not listening to your phone calls and not reading Americans' e-mails,'" Republican Congressman of Michigan Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

"If this was September 12th, 2001, we wouldn't even be having this conversation," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizon, said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

One of the central tenets of the Obama presidency is that government can play an important, positive role in the lives of the American people.

Obama said Friday that every member of Congress has been briefed on the surveillance programs, but Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison said that he himself has not been briefed.

"The real deal is, people probably won't be surprised to know that their members of Congress do end up voting for things that they don't know about," said CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash. "They don't really know what they're voting for, particularly when it comes to classified information."

Members of the intelligence committees do have oversight, receive information, and are briefed on such programs.

"They have votes on the legislation, but it's all done in secret because it's classified," said Bash.

Members who are not on the intelligence committee can go and read white papers on such programs, but they do not have staff members who have security clearance, so they can only learn so much.

"That's as much the problem as anything," said CNN political contributor and democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. "People are so ignorant about technology generally, and particularly in Washington, and too often in Congress."

Rosen also said that Americans are upset that the NSA has access to vast amounts of data, that commercial companies already collect.

"When you talk about, sort of, vast bureaucracies who have a huge amount of power, might be out of control - in my mind you could as easily be talking about these private sector companies," said Rosen.

Former chairman and CEO of Hewlett Packard, and former Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina said there are fundamental differences between private business and the government.

"A business faces competition, and consumers have choices, they can take their business away," said Fiorina. "As a result, every technology company has been extremely, actually, transparent about what they collect."

"There is no competition to government, and tax payers and citizens have no choices," said Fiorina, who added that she personally supports the NSA's surveillance programs.

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