NSA declines to deny it spies on Congress

Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, asked the National Security Agency whether it spies on members of Congress.  Here is the NSA’s reply.

nsaNSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons.  Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process.  Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons.  NSA is fully committed to transparency with Congress.  Our interaction with Congress has been extensive both before and since the media disclosures began last June.

The NSA says members of Congress have the same privacy protection as the general public, which is none at all.   That seems like a “yes” to me.

Carl Herman of Washington’s Blog said this is how the NSA would have answered if in fact it did not spy on Congress.

The Constitution provides for a separation of powers between the executive branch – which includes the NSA and its parent agency, the Department of Defense – on the one hand, and the legislative branch (i.e. Congress), on the other hand.

So the NSA is constitutionally prohibited from spying on members of Congress or their staff, and we go to great lengths to ensure that we faithfully discharge that constitutional duty.

So the answer is: no. We do not and never would spy on Congress.

All I can say is that critics of the National Security Agency in Congress need to be careful to lead exemplary lives.  Otherwise they may share the fate of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a crusader against Wall Street corruption who was forced to resign after his spending on prostitutes became public.

LINKS

NSA Admits to Spying on Congress by Washington’s Blog.

Is the NSA Blackmailing Its Overseers in Washington? by Washington’s Blog.

We’ve Known for Some Time That the NSA Is Spying on Congress by Washington’s Blog.

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