Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) discussed his push for making the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court more transparent in 2013 on the Kremlin-funded media outlet RT, a channel he has since criticized for being a Russian propaganda network.
"We know a lot about the Russian operation, about the way they amplified the damage their hacking and dumping of stolen documents was causing through the use of slick propaganda like RT, the Kremlin's media arm," Schiff said during a congressional hearing on March 20.
"Donald Trump appoints one of his high profile surrogates, Michael Flynn, to be his national security adviser. Michael Flynn has been paid by the Kremlin's propaganda outfit, RT, in the past, as well as another Russian entity," Schiff said at the same hearing.
Schiff has also been a critic of House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes' (R., Calif.) memo criticizing the Justice Department's FISA application methods regarding former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, recently saying that federal law enforcement sources will be less likely to come forward because they might have their identity revealed.
Schiff's RT interview on July 31, 2013, came on the heels of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's massive leak of classified information on U.S. surveillance systems and methods, touching off an explosive debate on privacy and security and whether Snowden was a whistleblower or a traitor.
Schiff discussed his proposed FISA reforms in an eight-minute interview.
"I think they'll have the cumulative impact of making the FISA court much more transparent, so the American people can understand what's being done in their name in the name of national security, so that we can have a more informed debate over the balance between privacy and security," Schiff said. "I think this can be accomplished while also maintaining sources and methods, and not compromising some of the very real national security concerns at stake."
Schiff said there should be a debate over how to reform the FISA court, although he said he did not feel he had been misled by the NSA or other agencies when they had testified before the House Intelligence Committee.
Asked at the conclusion of the interview what he made of Snowden and his leaks, Schiff, now the ranking member of the committee, said he could not condone people deciding for themselves what to declassify.
"That would not allow us to have any kind of a national security system, so I think we have to take that very seriously, just as we took the [Bradley] Manning case very seriously," Schiff said. "So, we need to find other mechanisms to raise these issues. I think bringing more transparency to the FISA court will allow us to do that … We have to condemn these leaks, take them very seriously, and find a better way to raise these substantive issues."