NSA Admits to Spying On Congress

The NSA Is Spying On Our Elected Representatives

After Senator Bernie Sanders asked the NSA whether it spied on members of congress, the NSA responded:

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.

In other words: yes, we spy on members of Congress, just like all other Americans.

For contrast, here’s what NSA would have said 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.

Yeah, they didn’t say that at all. Instead, NSA lumped Congress members in with the great unwashed masses of the American public who they spy on every day.

The Washington Post writes:

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.

It’s a relief to know that Congress doesn’t get a special carve-out (they’re just like us!). But the egalitarianism of it all will likely be of little comfort to Sanders.”

The Bigger Question: What Is NSA Doing With the Info?

But the bigger question is what the NSA does with that information. Remember, the Guardian reported in September that not only might the NSA be collecting information on Congress, but that it was sharing unfiltered information with a foreign nation … Israel:

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.


According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.


A much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government“. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.

In reality, there is quite a bit of evidence that NSA is using information gained through spying to blackmail Congress.

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  • jadan

    One hopes that Bernie Sanders knows the NSA targets Congress and that his inquiry is intended to expose this rogue agency and force Congress to act in its own defense.

    Our government is controlled by a shadow government called the National Security State. The architecture for this fascist entity was developed with the Manhattan Project during WWII followed by the National Security Act of 1947 and all the iterations that followed. 911 was the culmination of a slow moving coup d’etat that converted the people’s Congress into window dressing for this secret surveillance state, AKA the Department of Defense. The founders hated a professional military for good reason. A spineless and impotent Congress will not push back and deny the NSA the right to spy. Why? Because it IS being blackmailed! What it will do is try to create the perception that it is not being blackmailed.

    The perception that a representative government elected by the people actually exists is an illusion that is growing thin.

    • jo6pac


    • If Kay Griggs is right, it’s really NATO special ops (& US Army) running the world under the name of “The Joint.” If you make it to high political or military office, you are already compromised. Here’s a good place to start ( http://www.american-buddha .com/griggs.evillurkingwithin.htm ) – hope this helps. I never really understood how former CIA director Colby died in an alleged canoeing accident, but like the mob, you don’t get out of the family alive.

  • KathyP

    It makes one wonder who’s really in charge.

  • Fullblad

    Well written and thought out article with many many links in support of the accusations made. The truth be known the constitution and the bill of rights may indeed be suspended in whole or part. On the morning of the 9/11/2001 event V.P. Cheney, under perceived emergency, declared the Continuity of Government Act to be in effect. I believe a six month time frame is the limit of any such declaration, but renewal of the declaration once instigated allows for indefinite re-declaration. Under C.O.G. legislation the constitution and the bill of rights can be, or is suspended in whole or part. Re-declarations happened all throughout both of the Bush II administrations and was continued at the beginning of the first Obama administration. Congress over the years of the Obama administrations has on ocassion asked the executive branch if the C.O.G. Act is still in effect, but to my knowledge has never received a reply to any of their requests for an answer on this question. So perhaps the reason these new fiats have quasi legal standing is because C.O.G. is in effect, and this backdrop accounts for this state? If so the executive branch has usurped all the various powers of government for itself and a de facto dictatorship presently exists. My thought is that Mr Sanders should re phrase his question and ask if the C.O.G Act is in effect as the executive branch, from fear of the people, will not be disclosing that information to the citizenry of America.

  • JdL

    First question: who is the author of this column? Is there some reason why he/she is afraid to tell?

    Next question: without stating so explicitly, the author strongly implies the he/she thinks that the NSA should give members of Congress special exemption from spying. I think this is nonsense: members of Congress deserve no greater protection than any citizen does.

    Trying to make Congresspeople into a special Victim Class is the height of silliness.

  • Jsmith

    The power to spy on Congress is the power to control the government. Blackmail is defined as a crime under the common law of the United States. Those who say that Congress should not be exempted from being targeted by the NSA do not believe in Democracy nor a free government. This behavior by the NSA closely mirrors what the KGB and the Stasi did in the Soviet Union and East Germany. Nobody was secure in their privacy under those formerly communist regimes and apparently neither are we.

  • You know for a fact that congressmen are spying on other congressmen using the NSA. If you support them, you get that extra little perk.
    Anarcho Capitalism

    • Notmereally2

      I don’t know it for a fact but I assume it. When it comes to politicians spying on politicians I quote Tevye. Why should today be any different?

  • DJH

    who in the f .k is spying on the nsa??

  • imissAB

    Question #2: Does the NSA “spy” on the Supreme Court, members and attorneys who argue there?

    • trustandobeyalways

      why else would roberts flip flop on obamacare?

  • trustandobeyalways

    repub senate and house november 2014

  • timbroweraz

    Well it okay to spy on the citizens, but once the NSA starts spying on congress we suddenly have a problem?
    Diane F. should be good with this, whats good for the goose is good for the gander…….