NSA won't say if it is "spying" on Congress
January 4th, 2014
03:45 PM ET

NSA won't say if it is "spying" on Congress

Congress is just like everyone else. That's the message the National Security Agency has for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The independent senator from Vermont sent a letter to the agency Friday, asking whether it has or is "spying" on members of Congress and other elected American officials.

The NSA provided a preliminary response Saturday that said Congress has "the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons."

"NSA's authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons," said the agency in a statement obtained by CNN.

The response goes on to promise the agency will continue to work with Congress on the issues - without ever addressing the senator's real question.

Sanders defines "spying" in his letter as "gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or e-mails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business."

The NSA would say nothing more, except that it is further reviewing the letter.

"We will continue to work to ensure that all Members of Congress, including Sen. Sanders, have information about NSA's mission, authorities, and programs to fully inform the discharge of their duties," read the statement.

Attorney General Eric Holder similarly deflected answering the same question at a congressional hearing last summer, telling Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, that the NSA had no "intent" to spy on Congress, but the issue was better discussed in private.

The intelligence community has faced heated criticism from the right and left in 2013 after Edward Snowden's leaks, and the intensity has continued fiercely in 2014.

On Thursday, the New York Times and the Guardian published scathing editorials that slammed the "violations" Snowden's leaks revealed and advocated a presidential pardon for him.

Among those charges was the notion that James Clapper Jr., the director of National Intelligence, lied to Congress while testifying last March that the NSA was not collecting data on millions of Americans.

National Intelligence was quick to push back, with a letter to the editor from by general counsel Robert Litt, published in the New York Times on Saturday.

"As a witness to the relevant events and a participant in them, I know that allegation is not true," writes Litt, explaining that Clapper misunderstood the question, but couldn't publicly correct his mistake "because the program involved was classified."

"This incident shows the difficulty of discussing classified information in an unclassified setting and the danger of inferring a person's state of mind from extemporaneous answers given under pressure."

Litt said that Clapper was "surprised and distressed" when he was informed by staff that he gave a misleading answer after the testimony.

CNN's Evan Perez contributed to this report.

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Filed under: NSA
soundoff (375 Responses)
  1. Sheena

    It was stupid in this day and age, maybe it was more like one woman at a time for him. When the pine cones open all the way, you can remove the seeds to plant and grow more trees from.
    Sheena http://cort.as/7e97

    February 6, 2014 at 4:52 am | Reply
  2. mike

    They better be spying on them as well or the citizens of the US have a great class action suit against the government.

    January 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  3. Random

    So this is a case where people not giving a damn about it till now is biting you .

    They already admitted that inorder to pass the patriot act and other authorizations that legalize the programs All congress and senate members were exempted .

    NO they do not spy on congress. But it is the single most valuable use of the system, to verify and hold accountable all public servants, IE all politicians, all police, all judges , prison guards , etcal.

    This is the single most valuable use for the system. This is why we should not be running pitch forks drawn demanding the thing be taken down. We just need to use it more wisely. Corruption is impossible with this system if we direct it where it needs to be.

    January 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  4. NJD

    Bernie asked a stupid question and got a stupid answer...

    January 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • John Ridenhower

      The Director and a number of other general military officers have been fired for writig nasty personal emails to their mistresses.

      Wonder how those emails became public especilly when it Obama is rumored to hate the military.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  5. California

    NSA and the government in general has spied upon itself for decades. J Edgar is proof of this fact.

    They're even spying on the White House as we speak.

    January 7, 2014 at 11:46 am | Reply
    • Edward Snowden

      We are spying on you right now, too.

      January 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  6. Tfthuk Gdgkhk

    Native Americans do nothing Hatian Americans do less than nothing and Mexicans do gardening which is all good and fine until you relize that Mexicans don't do work in cold weather thus they are half useless. The NsA (military)outlaws protest like they did with OWS which is halarious because in no small way they (military) worked hard created OWS...

    January 6, 2014 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • mique

      Skip your meds again?

      January 8, 2014 at 9:18 am | Reply
  7. Tfthuk Gdgkhk

    There will be no force change in the US because there will be no white people to actualy do anything.

    January 6, 2014 at 10:23 am | Reply
  8. Tfthuk Gdgkhk

    But worse far worse just like it is now Israel is the happest place on Earth and the US is 100th (more or less less or more)...no one actualy makes money in israel just like it was designed.

    January 6, 2014 at 10:21 am | Reply
  9. Tfthuk Gdgkhk

    In 35 years there will be next to no/0 WHITE people in the US. Nice work Israel just like the Middle east.

    January 6, 2014 at 10:18 am | Reply
    • maggie

      in 35 years caucasians will be living in the middle east....lets send all the republicans there....they can swim in the crude to their hearts content

      January 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  10. Tfthuk Gdgkhk

    Cut back...thats funny the US Millitary Budget doubles every administration since WWII / Ike...Where the hell are your backpacks full of cash...

    January 6, 2014 at 10:15 am | Reply
  11. John Smith

    Who cares? If you are not doing anything illegal, you do not have to worry.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:16 pm | Reply
    • Nervous Investor

      Silly boy.

      January 6, 2014 at 5:29 am | Reply
    • RealVoiceOfReason

      Well said comrade! Stalin would be proud.

      January 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Reply
    • ddavid

      Small minds, have small thoughts.

      January 9, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Reply
    • Tyler

      Its about having a bit of privacy man. You should not have to feel like you are being watched 24/7 on the internet that you pay for.

      January 10, 2014 at 8:53 am | Reply
  12. Tfthuk Gdgkhk

    the big big (-N-I-G-G-E-R) s-e-c-u-r-i-t-y agency AKA (the great digital profit N-S-A)

    January 5, 2014 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  13. Bill In STL

    Is there any doubt?

    January 5, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  14. TQERTWERTQEERT345234

    WQEQWQWEPAGE HAKED
    PGIORGBLOGCOMERWERQWERQ

    January 5, 2014 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  15. James

    Money is less valuable than information. By collecting info they can dig up real information that is damning, or fabricate it and plant it in their databases. Then use it against you if you do not cooperate. They can get whatever they want. Money, trade agreements, construction contracts, weapons contracts, oil contracts, political decisions, foreign policy decisions. Everything.
    Who do you think developed the technology? Israel. Just like drones etc. The Israelis tell the US that it is their ally and will help them in every way possible, including transfer and co-development of technology, however the tech transfers are trojan horses. They use their capabilities to influence politicians. Why else do you think that the US has vetoed the vast majority if not 100% of every UN resolution? Why else do you think the US gives Israel, a developed country equivalent to any other European country if not better, billions of american dollars each year. More than any other ally or any developing country drastically needing aid. Israel is not in a strategically important location, it does not provide us access to any important waterways like the Suez Canal which is in Egypt, or the Red Sea or Persian Gulf. Land wise it's useless as well. Resource wise, its tiny. So what is the strategic importance? Zilch!
    What the US gets from Israel is what Israel forces the US to want. Info on mid-eastern countries. The US doesn't need the Israel to develop relationships or protect interests (oil production and transport) in the mid-east. The US is more than capable in doing that on its own since its a superpower. Some argue that the US gets tech from Israel. You really think that the US cant develop whatever tech it requires with our vast resources? The tech we get from Israel serves Israeli interests much much more than ours. The US-Israeli relationship is lopsided with benefits heading in one direction, towards Israel.
    I am NOT an anti-semite, it doesn't matter if Israel was a nation of jews or a nation of chinese. The point is that the US is being led like a dog on a leash by a country that doesn't care about our interests or how best to achieve those interests. It's time Americans wake up and recognize what is going on and put an end to this.
    There's nothing impossible, illogical, or unrealistic about what I said. There will be people that claim this is a conspiracy theory and its crazy. But they are trying to hide the truth, they want society to immediately dismiss this crazy ramblings and not actually listen and think and recognize what is happening. The fact is that there ARE secret agencies, there ARE secret capabilities, the technology DOES exist, we know corruption DOES exist, we know that blackmail DOES happen.

    January 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Reply
    • Soundawg

      I am a secular Jew, but I am an American first. Why should Israel be allowed to routinely violate the Geneva convention, the Nuclear Arms Non Proliferation Treaty, the War Crimes Act, and all manner of international convention regarding human rights?
      We crush countries that develop nuclear weapons, but we help Israel to develop nuclear ICBM's with MIRV's.
      Israel brazenly murdered many American Sailors on the USS Liberty in 1967.. A Russian warship was on hand filming the attack or the Liberty would surely have been sunk and the survivors machine gunned by the attacking aircraft and warships, as so many of their shipmates were..
      Why do we call Israel an ally? They clearly do not have our national interests in mind. Why do they require many billions of our money for weapons of mass destruction when millions of our children go to bed hungry in America?
      They are a rich country thanks in no small part to our many, many sacrifices on their behalf.

      January 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  16. Doc

    I'm curious. The NSA reports their spying activities to Congress. If they're spying on Congress, who are they reporting these activities to?

    January 5, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Reply
    • dean nunya

      They should and better be spying on congress. whats fair for us should be fair for them.but they're a do nothing congress anyways so what are they seeing? Besides them doing nothing? He's just mad because the crooks might get blackmailed by a CIA AGENT for selling out jobs to another country and the treasonous consequences.

      January 8, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  17. sleeperdvr

    Why hasn't anyone brought up General Petreus? It seems to me his disgrace (out of marriage affair) leading to his resignation which was determined through his email accounts had to have been through NSA records. I just seems a coincidence the this was leaked to the public just after he expressed his criticism of the handling of the Benghazi embassy attacks.
    Congress beware, anyone out of favor from the White House just beware, dirt will be made whenever it is to the advantage of those in power in the White House. The NSA searches are already on for those in Congress who will be running for election this fall.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Reply
    • guest

      Of course they are spying on Congress. Why do you think the Patriot act was passed in the first place? To dig up political dirt and retain power. Obama was a lackey to relieve the pressure built up by the G.W.B/cheney administration bilking the american people. They found someone willing to play ball and leave the system in place and rip to shreds any other candidate with their information gathering. We are being played by the politicians and the NSA, time to cut back this gross repression of privacy.

      January 6, 2014 at 10:01 am | Reply
  18. Hadenuffyet

    They won't say , paramount to an admission in my book.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  19. open your eyes

    media is government control as well you only hear see know what they want that's why things classified. moves music religion technology I pod phone computer's Facebook is a way to see how your day was. stop fighting each other people and fight the common enemy people who desire power to oppress you

    January 5, 2014 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • open your eyes

      the same reason this whole debate is going on the Government's job is to control install fear and oppress the people.
      Of course we would get a life term in prison that is fear for political power. Even if he did get the same punishment as you or I he would never serve it the Government is corrupt. They don't care what we think because we still belivie that we elected them and they are in the service of the people. we are expendable that's why they use words like Terrorism or
      Terrorism the definition of those words = Government when the people are not afraid they make 9-11 happen 3,000 they don't they murdered millions of people in the middle east for their own personal greed Kerry was the first person to come back for Vietnam stating that American soldiers were baby killers so when they got home people hate them Lyndon B Johnson sent 1,000's of troops in to a slaughter and he didn't blink an eye Kerry got pulled out of Vietnam because his daddy was in politics the same reason he is money you know power and control

      January 5, 2014 at 11:41 am | Reply
    • Mark Rushing

      Thank you, open your eyes. You took the words right out of my mouth!

      January 5, 2014 at 11:43 am | Reply
      • open your eyes

        anytime

        January 5, 2014 at 11:47 am |
  20. Oregone

    cnn.com censors posts here, so you are reading only what cnn whats you to read; don't trust cnn any more than you do nsa

    January 5, 2014 at 11:23 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Quite true Oregone, quite true indeed. All the media organizations here in America are right-wing, with Fox News being more right-wing than the rest. This is the way the politicians in Washington like it!!!

      January 5, 2014 at 11:47 am | Reply
      • georgefallon

        CNN...right wing????Do you even know what right or left wing actually is? Please provide evidence of this preposterous allegation!!!

        January 5, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
      • George patton

        That's easy, georgefallon. Did you ever hear CNN or any other right-wing news people condemn any of those ungodly drone attacks on the people in either Afghanistan or Pakistan? And when did any of these people ever make an unfavorable report on either Anwar Sadat or Hosni Mubarak in Egypt? Never! Moreover, when did any of them ever report that we're paying off the so-called "Sons of Iraq" aka the Awakening Council? Enough said!

        January 6, 2014 at 6:57 am |
    • akita96th

      We are all free to say what we want about the NSA but the end result is this...The government does not care what the average American citizen thinks about anything the NSA does or does not do because they will do what they want as long as Congress lets them..Our only power is the vote but the politicians always lie about what they are going to do about anything and once elected they do nothing...So all you rhetoric hounds of a particular party keep on ranting they dont care...Once you realize this you will quit praising one party over another and start looking at the man himself and see if he is a sell out or a real hero.

      January 6, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  21. allenwoll

    .
    One can NOT detect whether he is being snooped.
    .
    Therefore one can NOT detect whether he is NOT being snooped.
    .
    It is NOT the function nor the duty of ANY third party to insure that you are NOT being snooped - It is solely YOUR responsibility to see to that !
    .
    There ARE means (not very convenient) to absolutely guard the content of your messages from anyone, including the NSA.
    .
    Those who are seriously concerned with being or NOT being snooped are likely up to some activities financially, politically or socially inimical to the rest of us. . Fortunately, they tend to self-identify themselves !
    .

    January 5, 2014 at 10:56 am | Reply
  22. JR Ewing

    Bull!
    Clapper committed perjury!
    If you or I did that same crime we'd be given a stiff sentence.
    Why is Clapper above the law?
    What makes HIM so special?
    Our legal system isn't supposed to play favorites, but it obviously is.
    Our system is broken!

    January 5, 2014 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • open your eyes

      the same reason this whole debate is going on the Government's job is to control install fear and oppress the people.
      Of course we would get a life term in prison that is fear for political power. Even if he did get the same punishment as you or I he would never serve it the Government is corrupt. They don't care what we think because we still belivie that we elected them and they are in the service of the people. we are expendable that's why they use words like Terrorism or
      Terrorism the definition of those words = Government when the people are not afraid they make 9-11 happen 3,000 they don't they murdered millions of people in the middle east for their own personal greed Kerry was the first person to come back for Vietnam stating that American soldiers were baby killers so when they got home people hate them Lyndon B Johnson sent 1,000's of troops in to a slaughter and he didn't blink an eye Kerry got pulled out of Vietnam because his daddy was in politics the same reason he is money you know power and control

      January 5, 2014 at 11:31 am | Reply
  23. Pete/Ark

    " Have you stopped beating your wife yet ?" . What answer did Congress expect ?

    January 5, 2014 at 10:34 am | Reply
    • bobrctor

      Congress has the same protection we do...Play Ball!

      January 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  24. NorCalMojo

    Completely out of control.

    January 5, 2014 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • Pete/Ark

      ...a truly accurate description of Congress ...

      January 5, 2014 at 10:35 am | Reply
  25. Lyndon

    tet1953

    I don't want a Christian theocracy any more than I want an Islamic theocracy.

    January 5, 2014 at 9:46 am |

    why not that's what America was found on and intended for you fool and if your not for God or Jesus Christ then you can only be for a sure fire what to hell think about this way what happens when we die if nothing happens then we should all fear it. I don't because my faith in the lord is much stronger then my fear of dying. The Jews have been said to be gods people and he will protect them. Jerusalem has been surround by it enemies for thousands of years yet it still stands why?

    January 5, 2014 at 10:09 am | Reply
    • Lyndon

      gardnerlyndon457@yahoo.com

      January 5, 2014 at 10:21 am | Reply
    • areyousaying

      oooogaaaaa boooogaaaah!

      Lyndon's god of unconditional love is going to fry us "fools" in hell if we all don't believe as he does. Sounds like a theocratic agenda to me.

      January 5, 2014 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • Truth

      umm hate to burst your bubble, but Israel hasn't been standing for thousands of years. Israel was created in the 1940s. Muslims controlled since they defeated the Romans until the 1940s. No matter how hard you try you will never recreate history.

      January 6, 2014 at 10:11 am | Reply
  26. bence

    I bet NSA spies on itself.

    January 5, 2014 at 9:56 am | Reply
    • writingOnTheWall

      Everyone has dirt. The Pandora's Box has been opened.

      January 5, 2014 at 10:35 am | Reply
  27. kr

    "The NSA provided a preliminary response Saturday that said Congress has "the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons."

    yea NONE!!!!

    January 5, 2014 at 9:42 am | Reply
  28. Jessica McGwin

    Why should congress and senate or the white house be exempt from their own laws? If Snowden can work as a spy after back ground investigations. Is it so far from possibility that members or our elected positions would engage in treason? Look at Benghazi. At the top they know the hard realities of everything from our finances to weapons controls. We have been lied to by the top echelons in the belief that the people can not handle the truth. We are lied to by candidates for office in every election. Hitlers only mistake was that he built the camps after the war began. That is how he lost. The US has built FEMA camps. They are in place under the umbrella of disaster. While I would like to blindly believe that it could not happen here history tells a different story.

    January 5, 2014 at 9:42 am | Reply
    • Lyndon

      They shouldn't be but their is a lot more then Fema camps going on total control

      Terrorism definition the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. key word is politics.

      Terrorist definition a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims. hmmm I believe yet an other key word is politics

      oppression definition prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.

      rebellion definition an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler.

      everything Terrorist related comes back to a government sounding word to me and happens to be politics CJ

      oh yeah the government doesn't spy on its people just like they didn't kill thousands of innocent people with drone attacks.
      just like how some people may believe in conspiracy.
      kind of why military takes more then 50 years to declassify classification such as how and when Osama bin was killed just in time for reelection time of Obama bin laden. got back in the race.

      Fact the CIA funded Al Qaeda and supplied them with money weapons trained them to use gorilla warfare

      January 5, 2014 at 10:05 am | Reply
  29. Rick Hatfield

    Well of course it does, this is obama we are talking about.

    January 5, 2014 at 9:28 am | Reply
    • Lyndon

      It's an Obama Nation

      January 5, 2014 at 9:41 am | Reply
      • Ralph

        Bush started all this crapp and if Obama would have tried to stop all this he would have been hung from the highest tree in Washington for doing it. Republicans would have jumped on him saying he was weak on terrorism and shouldn't stop it. People are dammed if they do and dammed if they don't. Republicans are the political group who fight to spend billions on our war machine and call anyone who doesn't go along with them weak. It's always everyone's fault for what happens in Washington when it comes to things like this. Just because someone's a President doesn't mean they can stop everything they want when they want. Apathy is a politicians best friend so use your voice and computer to voice your opinion to your representative's. When your politicians do things you don't like write them never stop using your voice against the political machine in Washington and your state. Being silent gives them the OK to do what ever they want.

        January 5, 2014 at 10:37 am |
  30. JM

    Wow

    January 5, 2014 at 9:23 am | Reply
    • georgefallon

      WOW!!! I don't believe that I have ever witnessed on line someone so completely indoctrinated with the Party propaganda. I pray to God that there are not too many of you out there. Scary sociopathic trend.

      January 5, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  31. SixDegrees

    They spy on Congress.

    And they spy for Congress.

    It will be impossible to find a champion to rein in the NSA within the government.

    January 5, 2014 at 9:13 am | Reply
    • Lyndon

      This country was founded on God and Your Freedom
      Guess what freedom isn't free
      now we took God out of the picture and people are being striped of their rights disarming American's for total control
      and God taken from any and all Government standings why what did they wasn't us to pledge of allegiance too Them because they think are more powerful then the almighty

      January 5, 2014 at 9:28 am | Reply
      • tet1953

        I don't want a Christian theocracy any more than I want an Islamic theocracy.

        January 5, 2014 at 9:46 am |
      • Lyndon

        why not that's what America was found on and intended for you fool and if your not for God or Jesus Christ then you can only be for a sure fire what to hell think about this way what happens when we die if nothing happens then we should all fear it. I don't because my faith in the lord is much stronger then my fear of dying. The Jews have been said to be gods people and he will protect them. Jerusalem has been surround by it enemies for thousands of years yet it still stands why?

        January 5, 2014 at 10:02 am |
      • John

        Which god? Yours? Mine? His? Hers? Wall Street's? Which one bud? Many of the people most often quoted by folks like you, the so called "Founding Fathers", did not believe in your god.

        January 5, 2014 at 10:21 am |
      • Relax

        "This country was founded on God and Your Freedom" B.S.

        January 5, 2014 at 10:36 am |
  32. Lyndon

    Terrorism definition the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. key word is politics.

    Terrorist definition a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims. hmmm I believe yet an other key word is politics

    oppression definition prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.

    rebellion definition an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler.

    everything Terrorist related comes back to a government sounding word to me and happens to be politics CJ

    oh yeah the government doesn't spy on its people just like they didn't kill thousands of innocent people with drone attacks.
    just like how some people may believe in conspiracy.
    kind of why military takes more then 50 years to declassify classification such as how and when Osama bin was killed just in time for reelection time of Obama bin laden. got back in the race.

    Fact the CIA funded Al Qaeda and supplied them with money weapons trained them to use gorilla warfare

    Just like Lee Harvey Oswald was a Russian SPY and assassinate Kennedy just before Kennedy could stop the Vietnam war

    January 5, 2014 at 9:06 am | Reply
  33. Wake up

    NSA SPIES ON EVERYONE including Congress. and the President. It is time to Slay the Dragon and cut off its head.

    January 5, 2014 at 9:04 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Someone needs to spy on Congress (besides Israel) and report directly to the American people! We vote these people into office to serve us, then they go their merry way and lie to us!
      Spying on Congress would be a good thing! None of them work for us US citizens anymore. I would support the NSA spying on Congress IF they publicly publish their findings! Our Congress is no longer representatives of "the people"! First they sign the "Norquist pledge", then an "AIPC" pledge, then a "Koch" pledge! We, "normal" citizens don't stand a chance in our supposedly "representative democracy"! No matter who we vote for!

      January 5, 2014 at 9:19 am | Reply
  34. Zwei Stein

    Collect data about "us"...congress? You can't do that, after all, we've done nothing wrong...or right...or at all!

    January 5, 2014 at 9:02 am | Reply
  35. John

    I'm thinking that if the answer to the question was "no," then that can be covered with one word. "No." But a long winded, ambiguous, legalese answer that points to "national security" as a reason for its brevity can only mean "yes." What a country.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:59 am | Reply
  36. Chris Herz

    Quies custodiet ipsos custodes?

    January 5, 2014 at 8:55 am | Reply
  37. Marc

    Hmm, I hope someone leaks information about what Congress members and other elected officials are doing. I say what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Suk it up Congress you created this agency and funded it so too bad. We have to make sure there are no "terrorist" in Congress.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:46 am | Reply
    • Ester7

      The danger here is that knowledge about the private acts of individual members could lead to subtle pressure (read blackmail) on those members to backup the NSA and other agencies when the public demands accountability.

      January 5, 2014 at 9:05 am | Reply
  38. Jason

    Congress deserves no special treatment. If the NSA monitors our phone calls, they better monitor those of Congressmen. Next Congress is going to complain that they have to pay taxes like the commonfolk too.....

    January 5, 2014 at 8:37 am | Reply
    • Michael, Chapel Hill

      How much of the mined data used for Obama's election and subsequent policies?

      January 5, 2014 at 8:50 am | Reply
      • Ester7

        Right. I am sure the NSA has nothing better to do than get involved in politics. If they did it is more likely they would support a hawk like Romney. Then again, if they helped Obama defeat Mitt Money then that would be protecting the country more than spying on the public appears to have done.

        January 5, 2014 at 9:12 am |
  39. Damien

    Coming soon to a city near you: 7500 domestic drones. This is the stuff of Gestapo wet dreams, we allow it, we deserve it. Stop voting D and R and stat voting in more I's and L's if you want this to stop. There was a dream that was once a free country, not anymore.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:28 am | Reply
    • call it like i see it

      Right on,

      January 5, 2014 at 10:34 am | Reply
  40. esu589

    Spying on congress would be like a wiretap on the mafia.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:25 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Spying on Congress would be a good thing! None of them work for us US citizens anymore. I would support the NSA spying on Congress IF they publicly publish their findings! Our Congress is no longer representatives of "the people"! First they sign the "Norquist pledge", then an "AIPC" pledge, then a "Koch" pledge! We, "normal" citizens don't stand a chance in our supposedly "representative democracy"! No matter who we vote for!

      January 5, 2014 at 8:48 am | Reply
  41. Resist Tyranny

    Nazi Germany had a "National Security Agency" too they were called The Gestapo. They did the same thing too, Label, Hunt Down, and Execute political dissidents.

    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. - Benjamin Franklin.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:25 am | Reply
    • Lyndon

      Gestapo is old Nazi Germany's state police enforcing Nazi Laws and rule much like the Police departments in our cites enforcing law only on citizens why control
      where did these laws come from congress

      January 5, 2014 at 9:52 am | Reply
  42. andrew

    I never fully realized how stupid I was until I took an employment exam for the NSA.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:20 am | Reply
  43. BO

    We all know the answer to that question.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:19 am | Reply
    • tarura

      Hard to belive such professionals could have produced such amateurish birth certificate fake

      January 5, 2014 at 9:01 am | Reply
  44. bludde

    The National Snoop Agency does not "SPY" – only "SNOOP" fopr terrorists – and does not discriminate against the common person, treating them the same way that they treat Politicians..

    January 5, 2014 at 8:14 am | Reply
  45. CJ

    A non-story created 100% by the media.

    I'm waiting to see who the first person is to claim that NSA
    is withholding a cure for cancer, is operated by aliens or
    invented the Easter bunny.

    if NSA were as good as everyone seems to believe then
    there'd be no terrorists, no people dead from acts of terrorism
    and universal world peace would be the order of the day.

    Any of that happened yet? Hmmm.....regrettably at some point
    we'll all need to come back to earth. NSA is an intelligence agency,
    they spy on people. They've existed in one form or another since
    1917. It is astonishing that people have suddenly discovered what
    the US intelligence community does. Essentially, working to keep the
    next plane from flying into the next building.

    For those of you who feel that planes flying into buildings is the price
    of freedom there are nearly 3,000 families who are waiting for your
    letters explaining why their love ones died on 9/11 for you.

    So get those letters written and explain that they died so that NSA can't
    find out who cheated on their taxes or wives, who cross-dresses or who
    has a secret dislike of cats and dogs. Frankly, NSA doesn't know nor care
    about any of this because contrary to what self-absorbed, selfish and self-centered
    Americans like to believe "NSA's just not that into you!"

    January 5, 2014 at 8:13 am | Reply
    • Steve

      I believe the NSA was created to help save American lives. I am just not sure how much freedom and privacy we need to give up for safety.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:30 am | Reply
    • Reverend Lauren Unruh

      They died because if the president does it, it is legal.

      9/11 was an inside job, the evidence shows that the president did it with the help of his top advisors and intelligence operators, BUT because the president did it, it is legal and therefore it will NEVER be seriously investigated.

      If you do not approve of this situation, I suggest you call for Obama's impeachment and vote for Green Party candidates.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:55 am | Reply
    • Lyndon

      Terrorism definition the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. key word is politics.

      Terrorist definition a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims. hmmm I believe yet an other key word is politics

      oppression definition prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.

      rebellion definition an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler.

      everything Terrorist related comes back to a government sounding word to me and happens to be politics CJ

      oh yeah the government doesn't spy on its people just like they didn't kill thousands of innocent people with drone attacks.
      just like how some people may believe in conspiracy.
      kind of why military takes more then 50 years to declassify classification such as how and when Osama bin was killed just in time for reelection time of Obama bin laden. got back in the race.

      Fact the CIA funded Al Qaeda and supplied them with money weapons trained them to use gorilla warfare

      January 5, 2014 at 10:15 am | Reply
  46. janne

    The NSA should be spying on our government officials. After all they are proving to be one of the enemies of the american people. They lie, they cheat, they scare and threaten and they are driving the average american into the poorhouse while enriching themselves.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:04 am | Reply
    • Lyndon

      Well said the have made the American dream damn near impossible to achieve. Killing small business and it employee's, the rich just get richer and the poor suffer for the mistake of being poor we pay a higher tax rate then the rich and did anyone notice millions of Americans lost job houses and filed bankruptcies mean while congress and other government official got a rise, Obama promised the American people everything so somehow he got elected not once but twice and nothing got better only worse, but hey he got to take all kinds of cool dream vacation's on our tax dollar must be nice.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:24 am | Reply
  47. Irrational Exuberance

    Seems he is hoping to get some people upset at the prospect they are treated just like every other citizen.

    Lovely idea, we can only get Congress to be upset about something if they do so from a place of hypocrisy.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:04 am | Reply
    • Reverend Lauren Unruh

      Getting congress upset might be our only chance for justice.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:57 am | Reply
  48. Lyndon

    NSA is doing it job looking out for the Country somebody has to and it sure isn't our so called government they spent the last 6 years making our once great United States dependent on other country's in the world. Down size military wicking our defense and allowing Al Qaeda to retake control of places American troops lost their lives trying to protect. So did they die for nothing ? ask Obama I wonder what new exotic vacation he is on now with my tax dollar. he has no problem hurting us and most of you are to dumb to know it. Treason should only be dished out to those in office especially OBAMA NATAION and the Democrat party.

    January 5, 2014 at 8:03 am | Reply
    • mikefrommichigan

      They don't need to look out for the American people. This isnt about terrorism, prime example Boston Bombing he was leaving info out on the internet. It's about control thats it. They spy on our government officials guranteed and if they don't play ball well they blackmail them. Everyone should remember you have a greater chance of being killed by a shark or lightning than you do by a terrorist attack.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:13 am | Reply
      • Reverend Lauren Unruh

        You can tell who controls congress by the way they vote.

        Anything with 100% support MUST be the result of blackmail. This is because groups of people otherwise almost never support something 100%. It is not natural. Therefore it is a good indicator of where to look for the effects of the NSA fueled blackmail.

        January 5, 2014 at 9:09 am |
    • mikefrommichigan

      The U.S. funds Al-qaeda, dont be naive. Any ground Al-qaeda's gained has been allowed, supported by our government. For example in Syria we were giving those groups weapons so they could kill all the Christians.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:15 am | Reply
      • Reverend Lauren Unruh

        Al-quida was created and is supported by the CIA.

        January 5, 2014 at 9:10 am |
  49. Kathy F

    You can call it anything you want, you can explain it anyway you want......but whittle it down to the truth: we are all being "spied upon". Honestly, are you surprised?

    January 5, 2014 at 7:46 am | Reply
    • Reverend Lauren Unruh

      I'm wondering why I'm not being allowed to reply to you.

      January 5, 2014 at 9:18 am | Reply
    • Reverend Lauren Unruh

      No, I'm not surprised. I went to congress to complain about the illegal spying on me personally and congress voted to legalize it as a response.

      January 5, 2014 at 9:23 am | Reply
    • Reverend Lauren Unruh

      They say if the president orders it, it is not illegal.

      January 5, 2014 at 9:23 am | Reply
  50. kevin flannigan

    Why bother, Congress doesn't do anything to spy about.

    January 5, 2014 at 7:29 am | Reply
    • Bill H

      Bravo! Well said.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:18 am | Reply
    • Reverend Lauren Unruh

      They allocate money.

      January 5, 2014 at 9:21 am | Reply
  51. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    The COURTS not NSA have defined content collection as spying NOT metadata collection. This was an obvious bait-and-switch from this Congressman. He knows metadata is being collected legally, but he writes a letter to NSA stating "Metadata collection is spying, so are you spying on me?" If the ppl of Vermont reelect this clown,that just shows what a $ $ clowns they really are.

    January 5, 2014 at 7:24 am | Reply
  52. Dave

    Remember NSA is monitoring everything you type here, every call you make, all letters, and knows where and when you go anyplace. It knows what you eat, who you talk to and what about. It looks down at you with satalites, video's your actions and tracks how much money or guns you have. In order to stop them from knowing all this information, please put on your tinfoil hats!

    January 5, 2014 at 7:23 am | Reply
  53. scott

    we the people ceased to exist after 1913

    January 5, 2014 at 7:03 am | Reply
    • Wewerethepeople

      Well sooprise sooprise sooprise. Indeed. Given the insidious Federal Reserve Act, the 16th Amendment and the expansion of the IRS into the collection arm of the Fed were all created in 1913, you are absolutely correct.
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dba9OY0QatU&w=640&h=390]

      Notwithstanding Griffin's Creatures from Jekyl Island, the banning of The Law that Never Was and imprisoning it's author, is living proof the ruling class will do anything in it's power to keep you from learning the truth. The 16th Amendment is the IronFist of financial enslavement and is the monumental enabler of the NSA. Even to "suggest" ..well..I bet you know what I'm implying here. After all, one only need view Aaron Russo's film to understand why.
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLwHrxjPT5E&w=640&h=390]

      Furthermore, in lieu of

      January 5, 2014 at 9:22 am | Reply
  54. john vance

    This is a downside of the unguided collection of massive amounts of raw data. A Congressman asks if they have collected any information on him and the (probably honest) answer is "Uh, I don't know, we'll have to check about a trillion records and look".

    January 5, 2014 at 7:02 am | Reply
  55. scott

    I look at the bright side of my big brother government.THEY CARE ABOUT MR!lol That is why they do this. Obama cares! lol

    January 5, 2014 at 6:58 am | Reply
  56. John

    The NSA provided a preliminary response Saturday that said Congress has "the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons."

    In other words . . . NONE.

    January 5, 2014 at 6:57 am | Reply
  57. TewksburyBob

    We The People have apparently lost control of our government. There is no accountability. The thing is too big and is now too intrusive. We need to get back control and fast. The quickest way to get control is to control the spending. We need a balanced budget amendment. If they have less money to spend, they will need to get back to the business of the People.

    January 5, 2014 at 6:53 am | Reply
    • Kathy F

      I get what you are saying...but will it really work?

      January 5, 2014 at 7:51 am | Reply
    • mikefrommichigan

      Never going to happen. Our government will never give back all the controls they've gave themselves since 9/11. And the American people are to stupid, divided, and lazy to do anything about it. If anything we're going to lose more rights. This is Facism people enjoy.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:18 am | Reply
  58. Blender4life

    Does everyone not get this? This agency has to be dismantled and destroyed. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    January 5, 2014 at 6:09 am | Reply
  59. Bulldozer

    The NSA is the single most reprehensible government organization ever made. They have no scruples, no morals, and don't give a damn about you.

    They violate the 4th Amendment with impunity. Abolish them.

    January 5, 2014 at 6:09 am | Reply
    • scott

      are you sure you dont mean the federal reserve?

      January 5, 2014 at 7:00 am | Reply
    • andrew

      And because of them you are safe.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:17 am | Reply
      • mikefrommichigan

        Safe from what Andy? Terrorists? hahahah don't be stupid. Did they keep people safe in Boston? Counting 9/11 3000 and some odd number have died from terrorism in the U.S. You know how many people died from Shark attacks since than? or from Bee stings? How about struck by lightning? More people get killed by all those things every year than by terrorism. 20,000+ die from car wrecks a year. Since 2001 probably had 40,000+ murders. Every year 100 people die from BUBONIC PLAGUE in the U.S. This has nothing to do with keeping us safe. People like you are the reason that they get away with it.

        January 5, 2014 at 8:25 am |
      • Bill

        Safe? This is the same government the rabid left thinks is owned by the military-industrial complex, and the far right is convinced is trying to take away all their guns. You can take cyanide to get rid of a cold, but it defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

        January 5, 2014 at 8:26 am |
  60. Rick

    So the NSA recognizes no master? It should be disbanded immediately and all involved charged with treason frankly.

    January 5, 2014 at 6:07 am | Reply
  61. Ed

    NSA won't say whether it spies on Congress. That means it does.

    January 5, 2014 at 5:43 am | Reply
  62. viaticus@hotmail.com

    "The NSA provided a preliminary response Saturday that said Congress has "the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons.'"

    Why do I not find that comforting?

    January 5, 2014 at 5:37 am | Reply
  63. sundara0000

    Someone should research what happened in the last days of the Roman Emire....we are going down the same path.

    January 5, 2014 at 5:18 am | Reply
  64. bob123666

    someone needs to do something about the NSA. This is getting out of hand.

    January 5, 2014 at 5:00 am | Reply
  65. Brian Dodge

    No doubt Clapper will be "surprised and distressed" when someone explains how he "misunderstands" the concept of illegal searches and due process,

    January 5, 2014 at 4:50 am | Reply
  66. snowdogg

    "The NSA would say nothing more, except that it is further reviewing the letter."

    The old stiffarm... again, as always.

    January 5, 2014 at 4:06 am | Reply
    • mikefrommichigan

      I think they meant there going to dig up some embarrasing info on this Congressmen and silence him.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:26 am | Reply
  67. Mac

    NSA ,sounds like a government within a government,within a government = NO GOVERNMENT

    January 5, 2014 at 3:42 am | Reply
  68. Mopery

    This is an undeniable sign that our government is against our best interests. When simple questions from Congress are being dodged with evasive elocution and semantic games, rather than being answered directly as they should be, we're full blown Orwellian. Transparent is Opaque. Lies are Truth. Poor is Rich.

    January 5, 2014 at 3:42 am | Reply
  69. joy

    Because they only work for certain congress men

    January 5, 2014 at 3:30 am | Reply
  70. bill jackson

    NSA. America's Numbers #1 most wanted. NSA. The Worlds #1 most wanted. American Goverment UNLEASHED. Founding Forefather's Worse Nitemare..

    January 5, 2014 at 3:27 am | Reply
  71. DC

    The first time I heard of the NSA's Orwellian tactics, it seemed a shocking tragedy, but now their trespasses are so regular and vast, it's just a pathetic farce.

    January 5, 2014 at 2:49 am | Reply
  72. BigEnso

    "Litt said that Clapper was "surprised and distressed" when he was informed by staff that he gave a misleading answer after the testimony."

    Most liars are "surprised and distressed" when they are caught.

    January 5, 2014 at 2:46 am | Reply
  73. Jack

    All animals are equal, Congressman, but some are more equal than others.

    January 5, 2014 at 2:30 am | Reply
  74. forseti

    The NSA's spying reminds me of the arms race, only there is no one to stop them. Wake up, America.

    January 5, 2014 at 2:26 am | Reply
    • itscion

      The NSA is scary. No one can escape their invasions.

      January 5, 2014 at 2:34 am | Reply
  75. ss

    "This incident shows the difficulty of discussing classified information in an unclassified setting and the danger of inferring a person's state of mind from extemporaneous answers given under pressure." or it could actually be the NSA is having difficulty discussing illegal operations in a public setting.

    January 5, 2014 at 2:04 am | Reply
    • ghozt

      I wonder if I could try that argument in front of a judge after I 'didn't lie' to him or her under oath after he or she thought maybe I should face perjury charges. Oh wait, that argument wouldn't work for me...I'm wouldn't be an important, protected member of 'the elite' who literally get by with murder...what happened to this country?

      January 5, 2014 at 11:38 am | Reply
  76. CJ

    If they spy on dignitaries , then they spy on US citizens. If they spy on leaders of other countries, then they spy on Congress, and the House too. They spy on all Nations including the big five.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:59 am | Reply
  77. jim g

    this is "our" goverrnment?? of course not. it is the government of the 1%/ ellite corporations. they do not care one bit for us, except for our votes at election time, and , of course, our money. wake up america.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:42 am | Reply
    • forseti

      This is most assuredly not the government our founding fathers died for.

      January 5, 2014 at 2:29 am | Reply
  78. randy miner

    do you think congress gives a rats as% if they do spi on them?

    January 5, 2014 at 1:32 am | Reply
  79. Chuck

    Are you kidding, they should spy on Congress Senate and the White House

    January 5, 2014 at 1:28 am | Reply
  80. Calm Down

    Why the NSA “spying” is technically legal.
    The US government does not have the right to search your person or personal property. HOWEVER you give up this right when you go onto federal property and or use a government service.
    This is why schools are allowed to search student lockers on whim, the government is allowed to keep track of what books you rent from the library… because the locker is owned by the school, and the library books are also owned by the government.
    This is then applied to “cyberspace” Since the FCC regulates these mediums and one could say that “the airwaves” are a public domain; the government is allowed to monitor traffic through these mediums without violating the 4th amendment as you can’t well claim that cellular frequency X is your personal property nor can you think that every Ethernet cable/server that your email or snap-chat passes though is private property.
    If you don’t like it vote in a congress that will abolish the FCC or privatize what is government run. The NSA serves at the leisure of congress and the president. You’re fooling yourselves if you think they’re “out of control”

    January 5, 2014 at 1:26 am | Reply
    • randy miner

      scary public domain . like you'r in public why not treat you like a criminal all the time.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:44 am | Reply
    • CJ

      You are so full of crap. Who is paying you?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:54 am | Reply
    • moznr

      Really? then how come the NSA Intercepts Laptops Purchased Online to Install Malware?

      January 5, 2014 at 8:05 am | Reply
  81. Justin

    One thing I think people should remember is the USA, and the NSA are not the only people that "spy". Our allies, our enemies, and even private citizens/groups all use the same methods (all be it with different results)

    To remove the power of the NSA to compete in what is currently a cyber cold war would be idiotic and self destructive. Whats important is that any time a citizen of the United states is involved, the proper warrents are obtained. I don't really have a problem with "Metadata" being mined as long as its not viewed without a warrent when it involves a citizen.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:19 am | Reply
    • Peter W

      I don't believe anyone thinks 'other countries' are not spying, what we are saying is that our country should not spy on us!
      It is our governments job to protect its citizens, therefore instead of spying on us they should be looking for ways to protect us from being spied on... Not 'adding on'. The NSA should be bound by the same laws (restrictions) the FBI are constrained by when 'eavesdropping' on citizens located in country. Any extensions they would like to 'add' for persons outside the country (including communications to those within this country) should be unlimited.

      January 5, 2014 at 8:35 am | Reply
    • nervousinvestor

      So it is not ok to spy on an American without a warrant but it is ok to spy on a Canadian without a warrant? Are you insane or merely out of your head?

      BTW have you ever heard about the illicit power that secret dossiers gave to J Edgar Hoover formerly of the FBI?

      January 8, 2014 at 9:29 am | Reply
  82. Name

    Of course they spy on congress, on behalf of those who have paid for those congressmen to be where they are.
    You fools really believe we live in a democracy?

    January 5, 2014 at 1:15 am | Reply
  83. KEVIN

    Waite until you find out how our political leaders use the NSA to play games with each other.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:14 am | Reply
  84. jsavik

    that would certainly explain a lot about the inexplicable behavior in congress.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:13 am | Reply
  85. svann

    This is nothing new. J. Edgar Hoover spied on everyone, and had his own secrets.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:09 am | Reply
    • forseti

      It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

      January 5, 2014 at 2:30 am | Reply
  86. motorfirebox

    Haha, "they won't say". When the NSA says they're spying on you, that means they're spying on you. When the NSA won't say whether or not they're spying on you, that means they've got cameras in your teeth.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:06 am | Reply
  87. enraged

    I think the real issue that people are missing is the implication that congress doesn’t care that WE (The American people) are being spied on… they’re just worried about themselves being spied on… I actually like the NSA response pointing out that congressmen and women are (or at least should be) fundamentally no different than any other American. They may be violating the bill of rights but at least they’re doing it in an equal opportunist manner…

    January 5, 2014 at 1:01 am | Reply
  88. KBNJ

    NSA is out of control and Congress needs to shut them down as it seems Obama is unwilling. New Director, nix this spying. If an individual is suspected of terror ties, get and INDIVIDUAL warrant with a time limit. Period. Anything else is a violation of the 4th.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:57 am | Reply
  89. Duh

    The unstoppable power of the NSA:

    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/12/inside-the-nsas-leaked-catalog-of-surveillance-magic/

    January 5, 2014 at 12:55 am | Reply
  90. nik green

    This rogue, anti-American agency MUST be defunded and disbanded – and its leaders brought to trial for perjury and violating their oath of office. The totalitarian NSA are more a legacy of East Germany, North Korea or the old USSR. Enough already.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:48 am | Reply
  91. ???

    Who are "they"?

    January 5, 2014 at 12:37 am | Reply
    • NSA1234

      are you DAFT? they = the NSA

      January 5, 2014 at 12:45 am | Reply
  92. NSA1234

    time to call in a meteor strike on their Data Collection Computers

    January 5, 2014 at 12:37 am | Reply
    • CJ

      It would have to be 2 miles wide

      January 5, 2014 at 2:02 am | Reply
  93. sftommy

    KGB was never this successful in any of their plans to get America to destroy it's own security and intelligence apparatus. As an old spy master, Putin, if he didn't pull the strings, must be wondering who did.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:36 am | Reply
  94. NSA1234

    They were spying on everyday Americans yes they were spying on congress

    January 5, 2014 at 12:35 am | Reply
  95. Bigdog

    Congress doesn't need to be spied on since this administration promised transparency anyway.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:34 am | Reply
  96. jeff

    WHO THE HELL DO THESE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE. I DONT EVER REMEMBER VOTING ON ANY OF THIS GARBAGE.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:33 am | Reply
  97. BWV208

    Do they spy on congress??? Stupid question.!! Everybody already knows they do.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:32 am | Reply
  98. radar8

    They spy on everyone. Congress is finally worried, as they should be.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:24 am | Reply
  99. Eranda

    They don't spy on Congress. This is a rumor so people don't feel bad or are angry they are being spied on.
    "If members of Congress and liders of the world are being spied on, who am I to complain?" - this will be the moto from now and on. NSA will spy even more than before, especially on the ones who were "against them or their policies" (media, politicians, regular citizens etc.)
    The internet distroyed the privacy completely so we have to deal with its consequences.

    January 5, 2014 at 12:19 am | Reply
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