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.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
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Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."