Reps.: Obama’s NSA Is Lying About Spying on Congress

And it looks like they’re going to remain convinced of that no matter what.

Activists protest the surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA outside the Justice Department where President Barack Obama gave a major speech on reforming the NSA January 17, 2014.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
Feb. 12, 2014, 8:38 a.m.

A trio of law­makers are furi­ous that mem­bers of Con­gress are po­ten­tially sub­ject to the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s bulk col­lec­tion of phone re­cords, and they’re con­vinced the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is still ly­ing to them.

Re­pub­lic­an Reps. Dar­rell Issa and Jim Sensen­bren­ner joined with Demo­crat Jer­rold Nadler on an anti-NSA let­ter Wed­nes­day. The co­hort wrote to Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­er­al James Cole ask­ing him to cla­ri­fy his re­cent testi­mony ad­mit­ting that the gov­ern­ment “prob­ably” col­lects call in­form­a­tion from phone lines in con­gres­sion­al of­fices. The let­ter also dis­misses Cole’s ex­plan­a­tion as “in­ac­cur­ate.”

“In your testi­mony [be­fore the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee], you in­dic­ated that the ad­min­is­tra­tion would only look at call re­cords from a mem­ber of Con­gress if it had a reas­on­able, ar­tic­ul­able sus­pi­cion that the num­ber was re­lated to ter­ror­ism,” the let­ter reads. “That is not ac­cur­ate. The NSA looks at in­di­vidu­al num­bers when it has low level, par­tic­u­lar­ized sus­pi­cion, but it looks at mil­lions more with no sus­pi­cion of wrong­do­ing what­so­ever, some of whom may well be mem­bers of Con­gress.”

The troika cites a re­cent de­cision by the fed­er­al Dis­trict Court in D.C. that found the pro­gram to be “likely un­con­sti­tu­tion­al.” Most judges re­view­ing the pro­gram have found it to be leg­al.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­peatedly countered that while vir­tu­ally all phone re­cords are sub­ject to its data sweeps — a tech­nique it says is ne­ces­sary to as­semble the whole hay­stack in or­der to find the needle — it ex­am­ines only re­cords de­term­ined to be rel­ev­ant to a ter­ror­ism in­vest­ig­a­tion.

Obama an­nounced last month the NSA would re­duce from three to two the num­ber of “hops,” or de­grees of sep­ar­a­tion, from a ter­ror sus­pect for which it could ana­lyze phone data. But the law­makers said they still want Cole to cla­ri­fy his testi­mony and “fully dis­close all of the ways in which the gov­ern­ment con­ducts or may pos­sibly con­duct sur­veil­lance on mem­bers of Con­gress.”

Sensen­bren­ner, a Wis­con­sin Re­pub­lic­an and one­time ar­chi­tect of the post-9/11 USA Pat­ri­ot Act, is the chief spon­sor of the Free­dom Act, which seeks to strongly cur­tail the NSA’s col­lec­tion of phone re­cords. Issa — who hails from Cali­for­nia and has been a con­tinu­al thorn in Pres­id­ent Obama’s side in his role as chair­man of the House Over­sight pan­el — and Nadler, a New York Demo­crat, are among the bill’s 130 co­spon­sors.

What We're Following See More »
BUT IS HE A YES VOTE?
Cornyn Attempting to Get McCain Back for Health Vote
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
“TIME HAD RUN OUT” FOR ILL BABY
Charlie Gard’s Parents End Legal Fight
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A lawyer representing Chris Gard and Connie Yates told the High Court 'time had run out' for the baby. Mr. Gard said it meant his 'sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy' will not reach his first birthday on 4 August. 'To let our beautiful little Charlie go' is 'the hardest thing we'll ever have to do,' his mother said. Charlie's parents said they made the decision because a US doctor had told them it was now too late to give Charlie nucleoside therapy.

Source:
AGENCY SOUGHT TO DELAY IMPLEMENTATION
11 States Sue EPA Over Chemical Rule
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Eleven states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its June decision to delay implementation of a chemical safety rule" until 2019. "The state attorneys general, led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman (D), argue the rule is important for 'protecting our workers, first-responders and communities from chemical accidents' and should be allowed to take affect as planned by the Obama administration’s EPA.

Source:
ULTIMATUM ON ACA
Trump: You’re With Us Or Against Us
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
$1.6 BILLION SET ASIDE FOR WALL
House Freedom Caucus Chair: Shutdown Over Wall Funding Unlikely
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Monday said that funding for President Trump's controversial border wall is unlikely to cause a government shutdown. 'The odds of a government shutdown are very minimal when it comes to that,' the conservative lawmaker said at an event in Washington, D.C. 'I do think the funding of the border wall will happen,' he added. Appropriators have set aside $1.6 billion to fund new wall and fencing sections on parts of the U.S.-Mexico border covering a few dozen miles."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login