DOJ: NSA “Probably” Snoops on Congressmen’s Phone Calls

Russ Tice is a former intelligence analyst and whistleblower during the George W. days. He said that the intelligence community kept surveillance over all sorts of politicians, ranging from military officials to judges to congressmen and senators. Tice even stated that he held a file in his hand that ordered the wiretapping of phone numbers associated with a particular “wannabe” Senator in Illinois.

That was back in 2004, and now that Senator is President.

The National Journal reported on a recent exchange that took place during a House Judiciary Committee meeting between Representative Darrel Issa and Deputy Attorney General James Cole regarding NSA’s surveillance practices:

…Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, then put the question to Cole.

“Mr. Cole, do you collect 202, 225, and four digits afterwards?” Issa asked, referring to the prefixes used to call congressional offices.

“We probably do, Mr. Congressman,” Cole responded. “But we’re not allowed to look at any of those, however, unless we have reasonable, articulable suspicion that those numbers are related to a known terrorist threat.”

While the admission is hardly surprising, given that the raison d’être of the NSA’s sweeps is to collect data of virtually all Americans, it may mark the first time the government has responded so directly to the question.

Several members of Congress have recently agitated to know whether their phone records are included in the NSA’s sweeping data grabs. Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, sent a letter to NSA Director Keith Alexander asking whether Congress was spied on.

In response, Alexander said that “nothing NSA does can be fairly characterized as ‘spying on members of Congress or other American elected officials.’ ” His letter did not explicitly say whether congressional phone records were gathered, however.

“Probably do,” huh? I tend to think that while the NSA might be interested in Americans’ personal information and phone calls and internet habits and all that, I think the NSA was really meant for those in positions of power. Congressman, judges, Senators, Presidents, cabinet members, lobbyists, Pentagon officials, etc. And the more skeletons in their closet, the better. More leverage with which to blackmail these officials. Kind of makes you wonder what they have on Obama.