We’ve shown that the NSA has been spying on Congress for some time.
We’ve noted that the NSA would say the following if it wasn’t spying 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.
The NSA hasn’t said that.
Instead, the NSA first said:
Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons.
And Friday, NSA chief Keith Alexander wrote a letter to Senators Bernie Sanders saying that the NSA cannot reveal whether the agency has been targeting members of Congress in its metadata collection because doing so would violate privacy provisions accorded to civilians in the program:
Among those protections is the condition that NSA can query the metadata only based on phone numbers reasonably suspected to be associated with specific foreign terrorist groups. For that reason, NSA cannot lawfully search to determine if any records NSA has received under the program have included metadata of the phone calls of any member of Congress, other American elected officials, or any other American without the predicate.
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