But, to the great consternation of 26 government accountability groups who wrote an angry letter to committee leaders on Wednesday, the public is not invited. The entire hearing is classified, and closed.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008, which has been cited as the legal authority for those two programs, lapses next year.
The debate over whether to reauthorize it is expected to be the most substantive public examination of the NSA's surveillance regime since Congress's decision to end NSA's collection of bulk metadata of U.S. phone calls.
Kicking off that debate with a closed hearing sets the wrong tone, groups including openthegovernment.org and the ACLU wrote in their letter. "It continues the excessive secrecy that has contributed to the surveillance abuses we have seen in recent years and to their adverse effects upon both our civil liberties and economic growth."