In a letter to the NSA, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants to know if the agency has been spying on members of Congress and other elected officials.
In a letter to NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Sen. Sanders demanded answers,
I am deeply concerned about recent revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies are collecting enormous amounts of information about phone calls that Americans make, emails that we send, and websites that we visit. In my view, these actions are clearly unconstitutional. As U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon wrote recently , the NSA programs are “almost Orwellian.”
Equally disturbing was to learn that the NSA has been involved in listening in on the phone calls made by government leaders of countries such as Brazil, Germany, France, Mexico and other U.S. allies. This particular revelation has caused serious foreign policy setbacks for the United States, weakened our ability to work cooperatively with our allies, and caused an increase in anti-American sentiment throughout the world.
I am writing today to ask you one very simple question. Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials? “Spying” would include 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.
Sen. Sanders asked a great question. Given what we know about the scope of the NSA’s spying, it is fair to ask whether or not the agency has been spying on Congress. The odds are that the NSA has been collecting data on elected officials.
What Sanders is getting at is that the NSA is an agency that is out of control. The broad and vague Patriot Act has given them nearly unlimited power. Sen. Sanders has proposed legislation that would put limits on NSA and FBI spying. Sanders’ legislation would put limits on records that can be searched, require that authorities have reasonable suspicion based on specific information to get a court order for data collection, and put an end to open ended court orders that allow broad data mining and data collection.
This is a very smart tactic to advance his legislation. If the NSA has been spying on Congress, Sen. Sanders’ bill will definitely gain support. The fact that the question had to be asked in the first place is troubling but not as troubling as the NSA’s unlimited spying on every single American. Bernie Sanders is doing what most members of Congress won’t. He is taking on the NSA and stands ready with real reforms to protect the civil liberties of the American people.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association