PLATTSBURGH — Congressman Bill Owens says the National Security Agency and Internal Revenue Service both need drastic improvements in their operations to avoid problems like those recently uncovered.
“They didn’t know, which tells you that their audit controls were inadequate,” he said in reference to the case involving Edward Snowden, a former NSA contract worker who leaked details of top-secret U.S. and British government mass-surveillance programs.
Owens was speaking to a crowd of about 75 people who attended a “town hall” meeting at Clinton Community College earlier this week.
The Democrat from Plattsburgh took questions for about an hour on topics including the Farm Bill, oil pipelines, the Affordable Health-Care Act and national security.
‘IRS SCREWED UP’
Owens said the NSA situation has raised red flags in Washington, and he is hopeful that stricter controls will be installed.
“There is now a broader scope of people saying we need to check things,” he said.
When the matter of the IRS appearing to target conservative groups for audits over progressive groups came up, Owens said the organization needs to clean up its act and treat both sides fairly.
“Clearly, the IRS screwed up. There is no doubt about that,” he said. “This shouldn’t happen under any circumstance.”
Owens said he voted in favor of the Affordable Health-Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare, because it was the most reasonable approach available to solving the health-care crisis.
The bill is not perfect, he said, but he did read all 2,500 pages of it before voting on it, and he believes it will lead to better health-care outcomes for patients and savings for consumers and health-insurance companies.
As far as repealing Obamacare, Owens said he is not in favor of that because there is no alternative ready.