Sunday, 5 January 2014

Fwd: NSA statement does not deny 'spying' on members of Congress

[[  You need hip boots just to listen to them on C-SPAN.  NSA guys must be wearing waders. ]]


NSA statement does not deny 'spying' on members of Congress


. Agency responds to questions from Senator Bernie Sanders


. Statement cites 'same privacy protections as all US persons'

    Spencer Ackerman in Washington and Martin Pengelly in New York, Saturday 4 January 2014 15.31 EST      


Vermont senator Bernie Sanders Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Photograph:

Alison Redlich/AP


The National Security Agency on Saturday released a statement in answer to

questions from a senator about whether it "has spied, or is . currently

spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials", in

which it did not deny collecting communications from legislators of the US

Congress to whom it says it is accountable.


In a letter dated 3 January, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont 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".


The agency has been at the centre of political controversy since a former

contractor, Edward Snowden, released thousands of documents on its

activities to media outlets including the Guardian.


In its statement, which comes as the NSA gears up for a make-or-break

legislative battle over the scope of its surveillance powers, the agency

pointed to "privacy protections" which it says it keeps on all Americans'

phone records.


The statement read: "NSA'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.


"We are reviewing Senator Sanders's letter now, and we will continue to work

to ensure that all members of Congress, including Senator Sanders, have

information about NSA's mission, authorities, and programs to fully inform

the discharge of their duties."


Soon after Sanders' letter was published, the director of national

intelligence, James Clapper, announced that the Foreign Intelligence

Surveillance (Fisa) Court, the body which exists to provide government

oversight of NSA surveillance activities, had renewed the domestic phone

records collection order for another 90 days.


On Saturday, the New York Times published a letter from Robert Litt, in

which the general counsel for the Office of National Intelligence denied

allegations that Clapper lied to Congress in March, when questioned about

NSA domestic surveillance.


Last month, two federal judges issued contradictory verdicts on whether such

NSA surveillance was constitutional. Judge Richard Leon said it was not

constitutional; Judge William Pauley said that it was.



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