Asked if They’re Spying on Congress, NSA Hardly Answers the Question

Spying is a given at the National Security Agency (NSA), and now that folks have more than enough evidence showing the evasiveness of surveillance, many are wondering if it’s the politicians in Congress who are being constantly monitored too. Unfortunately, knowing completely whether or not policymakers in Washington are being monitored is improbable, at least based on what the NSA says.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wanted clarification on the NSA’s part, deciphering if surveillance is or isn’t being placed on elected officials. Specifically, Senator Sanders called the act of surveillance “spying”, and defined spying as “gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business.”

Timely, the NSA took just a day for a response, and to no surprise, the NSA hardly gave an answer. The NSA wrote that, “[the agency’s] authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such protection are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons.” Offering hope, the letter explained that NSA officials would continue to work with Congress members to ensure all information is transparent.

As the Washington Post noted, “The answer is telling. We already know that the NSA collects records on virtually every phone call made in the United States. That program was renewed for the 36th time on Friday. If members of Congress are treated no differently than other Americans, then the NSA likely keeps tabs on every call they make as well.”

Some have no problem with the NSA spying on its own government relationships, like former House member Ron Paul who said, “We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government. Not the other way around.” Nonetheless, the battle for privacy and spying is still raging, and both sides are not raising the white flag anytime soon.