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 (379 Responses)
  1. Jerry Schull

    Pretty dang arrogant response. But then again, the blanket is so large that it can NOT exclude anyone. I bet they don't even exclude the President or leaders of allied countries.

    People, this type of unreasonable and without cause surveillance has got to stop. If they can't do it any other way then I say We need to pull the financial plug on their shop. I'm sure they would find another more legal way.

    January 4, 2014 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  2. NC

    Who is really in charge of the NSA? Well, the Goldman Sachs and the Koch brothers of course!

    January 4, 2014 at 11:38 pm | Reply
    • Sandy

      No, our federal government is. The Koch brothers and Goldman Sachs haven't gotten that far yet. The NSA is the only honest group protecting our government right now. Huge lies are being spread by other organizations like the Koch brothers, etc.

      January 4, 2014 at 11:43 pm | Reply
      • dc

        Sorry, you've got them mixed up with George Soros, Financier of the liberal new world order....

        January 5, 2014 at 12:04 am |
  3. robbyx

    Ah, but Edward Snowden is the un-American traitor, right? The NSA operates outside the law and gets its blessings from a secret court. Does that sound American to anyone? More like Soviet or Chinese. Our country is dangerously close to losing sight of its core values. We've allowed ourselves to become so scared of the terrorist boogeyman that we're sacrificing our freedoms without question. This leads nowhere good.

    January 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm | Reply
    • kbeammeup

      Dangerously close to losing our core values? I could say, core values are in the trash with the people running our country. We need to fire them. I'm getting my voter registration card ready.

      January 4, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Reply
    • the village idiot

      it is a passage from Orwell's novel 1984

      January 4, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Reply
    • the village idiot

      under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me

      January 4, 2014 at 11:37 pm | Reply
    • Sandy

      Lies! Lies! Lies! All you right-wing conservatives are filled with lies! At least the NSA has TRUE information unlike you!

      January 4, 2014 at 11:45 pm | Reply
      • dc

        You might want to ease off the kool-aid a bit! Your teeth are turning purple, and your nose is growing!

        January 5, 2014 at 12:06 am |
  4. jimbeam

    Now they won't even answer Congress. So who's watching the watchers?

    January 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm | Reply
    • kbeammeup

      Who ARE the watchers? Seriously, and what are their qualifications to be watching, LOL.

      January 4, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Reply
    • Sandy

      Congress contains some of the worst right-wing conservative liars and cheats in this country. The NSA has no obligation to respond to such a bunch of crooks!

      January 4, 2014 at 11:46 pm | Reply
      • dc

        You might want to do some more homework.... the liberal Dems are currently in power......

        January 5, 2014 at 12:08 am |
  5. rabidmob

    "the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons" – So none basically.

    January 4, 2014 at 11:03 pm | Reply
    • ME

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who caught that! We have no privacy in the name of "fighting terrorism". I want my 4th Amendment Protections back!!!!!

      January 4, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  6. could be bigger than wateragte

    impeachment could be a result IF this goes to the WH with Obama knowingly approving the spying on congress. BIG IF ...but it must be investigated by an independent prosecutor.

    January 4, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Reply
    • could be bigger than watergate

      ooops

      January 4, 2014 at 11:01 pm | Reply
    • Sandy

      Anything the NSA is doing was approved by the previous administration – a conservative Republican president and his criminal VP! Obama probably didn't even know about that. Here goes another crazy theory brought about by right-wing idiots!! Didn't you hear? The New York Times did an in-depth investigation of Benghazi and found out that it was a CONGRESSIONAL aide who received the warning about death threats to our people in Syria, and the aide minimized it in his report! Why didn't he report it to the CIA, etc?

      January 4, 2014 at 11:52 pm | Reply
      • dc

        Sandy, do you make this stuff up as you go? Obama has been in power a LOT of years now.... HE OWNS IT, NOT BUSH OR CLINTON!

        January 5, 2014 at 12:10 am |
      • Laughing

        So Obama knew nothing about it? That's the same excuse given for every scandal in this administration so basically we have Sgt. Schultz from "Hogan's Heroes" sitting in the White House.

        January 5, 2014 at 12:14 am |
  7. Jim Jimson

    These people are out of control and need to be reminded they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us. A spell of imprisonment for some of their leadership might clarify their minds.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:59 pm | Reply
    • Sandy

      I am constantly hearing about people threatening the President's life – why isn't anything being done about that?!?!? That is the real outrage!!!

      January 4, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Reply
      • dc

        Sandy, you are loosing control..... Speak to someone, or take your meds. You've got some real denial and blinder issues.....

        January 5, 2014 at 12:13 am |
  8. $™¶\/∆© $@¿¿¥

    Lives under the watchful eye
    Yearn to know how much
    Insight less common than they see
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    Overwatch upon reality scares
    Even ewe hats of different shades
    Very telling lack of power
    Ewe all will fold broken form
    Right being the latest wrong
    Youth shall pay forever more
    One faithful sheep ewe no longer care
    None be deaf to her given time
    Ewe will know when the lights go out

    January 4, 2014 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  9. Vegas82

    I certainly hope they're spying on those shady people in congress. Too many of them aren't worried about doing their job and are just worried about how to further their own power/careers.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  10. rad666

    Funny how Congress funds them to spy on people and think they are immune.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  11. Sausage Frenzy

    How can this agency be allowed to continue? They are destroying the reputation of the US, they are unaccountable,. they lie to congress and escape punishment. They are out of control and must be halted immediately. Forget terrorism, the real threat to the US is the unbridled "intelligence" agencies.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Reply
    • Kathryn

      You don't know what you are talking about. Do you work there??

      January 4, 2014 at 11:39 pm | Reply
      • Sausage Frenzy

        I have followed as much of this story as I am able too, mostly from the international press as the US press like CNN has largely been appalling at reporting. So tell me oh expert, do you work for the NSA that you know so much more?

        January 5, 2014 at 1:08 am |
  12. the village idiot

    George Orwell's book 1984 is the playbook for those in power, the only thing they forget is everyone has a copy so no big secret idiots.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  13. Hear The Truth

    Check out the Hear-the-truth website

    January 4, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  14. rad666

    No, trust us," said the NSA.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:39 pm | Reply
  15. Tom

    I certainly hope they spy on Congress. Congress is the biggest threat out there to the security of the nation.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  16. Andrew

    "NSA won't say if it spies on Congress"

    That would be the very definition of an unaccountable and out of control secret police force.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Reply
    • Sausage Frenzy

      winner!

      January 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Reply
      • Kathryn

        You are an idiot.

        January 4, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
    • Alan Powell

      You might give consideration to the possibility that Congress could have gotten much more thoughtful and detailed questions during a closed session. It's very unsettling to try and discuss classified matters in an open environment while trying to be sure you don't inadvertently reveal classified information. The tendency is to err on the side of not revealing classified information. At least that's what I'm told.

      January 4, 2014 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  17. Dan

    It's not just the government. Most of their data is coming from Facebook, Google, etc. Besides, Google also has a database on you that people can exploit. It started with Internet companies. Everybody thinks it's OK for them to steal and compile all sorts of personal information, but not the government? Wake up, smell the coffee, and start agitating to pass laws to stop ALL collection and databasing of personal data without express permission of the individual. All we'd lose is some free Internet services. But we'd gain back the privacy and freedom we've taken for granted since America was founded. We are fools to not have seen this coming years ago.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  18. danielatlanta

    If the NSA can make sense of what Congress is saying, let them.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  19. joejmauro

    Our government agencies are incompetent and out of control across the board and never admit to it.Heres a short list.the NSA,IRS,TSA,DEA,HEALTH AND WELFARE,GOA,HOMELAND SECURITY ETCETCETCETCETC

    January 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  20. Keith

    Of course they spy on the Congress, how else will they black mail them so they can continue to do as they please.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  21. DickPerry

    So there isn't anything new then. We all (the rest of the world) already learned that we can't trust americans. And so far there hasn't been one ounce of anything opposing that. Its U.S against the rest of the world.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  22. Maani

    "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."

    And since we now know that the "privacy protections" for "all U.S. persons" are non-existent, this means...

    January 4, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Reply
    • tom

      This is gotten out of control and become very Orwellian and some of us told you so, told you it would happen. But the conservative slice of the population said, "if you've got nothing to hide, what is the problem". Brilliant to give up your rights in the name of fighting terrorism. Used to be, the government needed a court order to wiretap. Not anymore, thanks to the "patriot act". All true patriots love to be spied on.

      Thanks conservatives for giving us the real "big government"!

      January 4, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Reply
      • robbyx

        Conservatives are very easy to manipulate, Tom. "National Security" and/or religion gets them every time. Wrap yourself in the flag or the Bible and they'll agree to anything, I mean anything, you want – without question. The Patriot Act is an affront to all Americans, but so many cheer it as if tossing one's rights and freedoms in the trash is something to be celebrated. We now live in an America of secret courts and unchecked intelligence agencies. Sounds a lot like the USSR circa 1970.

        January 4, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
  23. John R. Grace

    Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity. Lord Acton

    Question: Is oversight done in complete secrecy in and of itself truly oversight?

    January 4, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Reply
  24. huju

    well , lets vote for republicans, HURRAY to the buuushes

    January 4, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Reply
    • tom

      Dick Cheney must be so happy that government finally has that power.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  25. bhartman36

    If the NSA won't say if they're spying on you, that means they are.

    And why wouldn't they spy on Congress? They spy on the rest of us.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  26. Chris Asking Questions

    Why shouldn't the NSA spy on members of Congress, as well as political appointees? Aren't they the ones with the secrets that can be sold or bargained away?

    January 4, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Reply
    • Paul Bearer

      Let us hope they also spy on Obozo also.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  27. billisnice

    Not saying is an admission of guilt.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  28. American

    Rand Paul is suing the NSA to stop them from searching people's wireless phones
    If you have a wireless phone and do not want them to search your phone, please signup for the clash action lawsuit at:

    http://www.rand-2016.com/nsa_lawsuit_signup16.aspx?pid=0610

    January 4, 2014 at 9:43 pm | Reply
    • tom

      Rand is a whacko. You can't sue the NSA over what they will claim to be classified national security issues. This guy understands nothing, scary.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Reply
      • dc

        You liberals can't have it both ways.... First you blame Conservatives for NSA being out of control over 6 years into the Obama Administration with Democrats controlling the Senate, and then when a Conservative tries to do something about it, you call him a nut case! Get Real!

        January 5, 2014 at 12:18 am |
  29. nibirutruth

    Evidently, CNN is really afraid of what I have to say.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Reply
    • bhartman36

      They just let you post, so evidently not.

      January 4, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Reply
      • nibirutruth

        Sure but not allowing me to make the comments I want to, only the ones they allow. Are you one of their admins monitoring me?

        January 4, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
  30. Jim M

    Anyone thinking that elected governments officials actually run a single country in today's world is totally delusional, especially in the United States.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  31. nibirutruth

    Why are you blocking my posts CNN?

    January 4, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  32. RDH

    Clapper belongs in jail.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  33. Jim

    It sometimes seems that NSA spying is more about our government maintaining power than protecting Americans.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  34. SearingTruth

    "It was a new weapon.

    Invisible might."
    SearingTruth

    A Future of the Brave

    January 4, 2014 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  35. nwg6011

    If anybody should be spied on, it should be congress. They need to know how we feel.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  36. Helen Troy

    too funny.. government spying on government.. kind of like Watergate...

    January 4, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  37. Brian

    "the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons" – in other words: none.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  38. cincpac306

    Why would they spy on Congress???? They are an INTELLIGENCE gathering organization. Slim pickings on Capitol Hill.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  39. the village idiot

    you can kiss the nsa goodbye the corrupt congress won't tolerate it.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Reply
    • nwg6011

      The hard part will be to pretend like they didn't know.

      January 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  40. styxhexenhammer666

    Of course they spied on congress.

    And therein lies the problem- if some mid tier agent can pull up every email a senator ever sent (they can) and if they know enough about coding, surveillance, etc, to not get caught if they want to blackmail them (they presumably could try) they could literally take over the frigging nation.

    Let's say an unnamed politician gives a few hundred grand to clapper and says offhand "I'm sure my opponent has some shady dealings in his history" he could grab those records, then conduct his own "investigation" as a cover using some muck-raker journalist ally, and leak (because the NSA fed him the info to begin with) that his opponent cheated on his wife or embezzled a hundred hershey bars from the local co-op.

    This is literally the worst case scenario for our republic- an agency with the power to conduct surveillance on elected officials, presumably giving those in power the ability to use that info to destroy political opponents.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  41. Observer

    Congresspeople who are OK with NSA spying on regular Americans, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  42. dudley

    test

    January 4, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  43. karek40

    Wouldn't it be interesting to have some whistle blower publish the conversations of all our congress. Talk about spin doctoring and apologies wow.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  44. ItSoNlYmE

    I still can't get my head around the fact that this is the same NSA I worked for in the 1980s. Everything that's in the headlines today about NSA would have been anathema to the very core of NSA's being back then. I think Senator Sanders and some others need to start taking a hatchet to No Such Agency. Clearly they're so far out of control that it's well past time to dismantle and eviscerate.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Reply
    • $™¶\/∆© $@¿¿¥

      Eye see you like to play
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      January 4, 2014 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  45. john

    I have no problem with the NSA (or for that matter any other federal bureau) spying on me or my family. NSA spying is good. I also think it's good the NSA director didn't give a 'straight answer' as well. This is what keeps America Strong.

    As for the -other- posts, everyone has there right to complain whether it's good or bad. You just respond to a blog and post.

    What I hope doesn't happened, is some US -elected official- introduces legislation to curtain NSA/CIA actions.

    Think about it, in the time of crisis, what country's always provides help? USA, Canada, UK, Australia.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Reply
    • RDH

      You think that lying is what makes one strong? Its people like you who are the greatest threat this nation faces. We would be better off with 100 Osama's than one of you.

      January 4, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Reply
    • $™¶\/∆© $@¿¿¥

      Far from bliss the northern goats
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      January 4, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  46. brigit

    This is juicy. I think Snowden just put Tom Clancy to shame.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Tom Clancy was part of the group whose efforts are to control the population.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  47. whitepine

    I hope so. We elected a lot of crooks. Just shows how dumb the American voter is. We hate most of the people we put into elected offices.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  48. 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.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Reply
    • Shawn

      Spot on.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Reply
    • Les pantalons fancie

      James you forgot to mention what resolutions the US is vetoing, those criticizing Israel for its illegal actions and treatment of Palestinians.

      January 4, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Reply
    • Sabababataba

      James you're boring me with your manufactured fears. Israel and the jews are the epitome of science, technology, medicine and humanistic values for thousands of years. Go make me a falafel you fear-filled little boy.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:55 pm | Reply
      • James

        Oh yea, there is NO such thing as corruption or blackmail, or self interrest.People are waking up, its happening slowly but with bigger and bigger populations, therell eventually be enouugh people to force change.

        January 6, 2014 at 10:19 am |
    • Drew

      So you're saying the NSA is controlled by little Israel. Sounds like you're a spin-meister, writing a long diatribe short on facts. But if what you're saying is true, that Israel developed the super-computer programs the NSA is using to spy on a lot of communications to help protect USA from more 911 Attacks, then you should be thanking Israel. Because if its true, then it is they who is giving USA a lot of Aid, not the other way round as many others claim.

      January 5, 2014 at 12:27 am | Reply
      • logical thinker

        The US gets aid in return for Israel guiding our decision making, forcing us to make decisions that are not in our interests.

        January 5, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
  49. George patton

    it is not necessary.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  50. elreyJOnes

    Isn't it pathetic that a Bolshevik like Bernie sanders is asking this question when he is a stealth support of the NSA like all the other international Bolshevik supremacists. Phony article.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • Eric J. Beck

      Oh shut up...

      January 4, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  51. US Ministry Of Vengator

    From: NSA
    To: Senator

    Senator, please define spying...

    January 4, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  52. CIA

    Bulk spying probably includes Congress.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  53. Charles Lennex

    If they are spying on congress, good for them the. You support their efforts and won't do anything to curb it. I really hope they are spying on congress. Maybe then they will do something about breaking the 4th amendment.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Reply
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    January 4, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  55. Sr cactus

    NAS should sell subscriptions to some of the media so that can keep up. Most news and all financial news organizations are reporting the fall Fallujah

    January 4, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Reply
  56. Olaf Big

    If the top intelligence official in the U.S. is so easily confused that he can't give a straight answer to the most basic question about a major program he oversees, he is not fit for the job. Clapper knew very well what the answer was, he was simply to slow to invent the kind of meaningless non-committal answer that the intelligence officials routinely feed the Congress, so he lied, and now N.S.A. continues to obfuscate, pretending that he did not understand what he was asked.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:50 pm | Reply
    • Dave

      Exactly

      January 4, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  57. freshh201

    And they also have your fingerprints if you use an iPhone 5S. It is now all linked together. Just waiting for your retina scan.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  58. slurpee

    If anyone needs spying on it's the asshats in government, too much power too easy to be corrupt. Glad to hear this.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Reply
    • ItSoNlYmE

      You have no clue of the implications of this. The NSA has become a rogue element, beholden to no one except itself. They *are* Big Brother. Unchecked power to do basically whatever they want to do. Tell me how that's a good thing in a "democracy"?

      January 4, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Reply
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        January 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
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  60. robert

    Who puts these people in Congress, what a stupid letter. ITS been in the news....NSA said Everyone! I love it, the same people that approved the NSA to gather information will have to take their own medicine.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  61. Sub orbit

    The NSA must now know of many thousands (millions?) of crimes committed and blathered about in communications. Are they not then complicit in sustaining such secrecies and evidence?

    January 4, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Reply
    • Sim Namore

      This is an excellent point on a number of levels. Didn't know even though they had the evidence? Misfeasance. Followed this crime but not another? Discrimination. Blew the investigation even though every dirty trick was employed? Malfeasance. It goes on and on. Let's see how any of this NSA bs fares in discovery.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Reply
      • Sim Namore

        Forgot what I was going to say!! The best way to get rid of the NSA is to have them admit to spying on Congress. Most every Senator and Congressman/woman is a thief, so I doubt that this will go over with them very well.

        January 4, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
  62. GODZILLA1

    Well if there is one they need to spy on it is the leader of the 'WACKO BIRDS"!

    January 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  63. bludde

    I find the official NSA response to Senator Sanders quite interesting and informative – NSA is politically correct and treats politicians the same way they treat the avergae citizen – ergo, no special privileges. IF they spy on the average Joe or Jane, they spy on Bernie Sanders as well. He enjoys NO exemption... MIND you the NSA neither admits nor denies that they do spy on everyone..

    January 4, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  64. rad666

    "No, we are not spying on Congrres, trust us," said NSA

    January 4, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  65. LE6920

    NSA should not show favortism. If anyone needs to be spied on, it's our politicians. This will keep an honest person honest.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  66. Sam

    Clapper was "surprised and distressed" when he found out he was lieing to the American people, sounds just like the rest of the politicians to me. That is what we get when we put the fox in charge of the hen house.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  67. bdby

    So senators and congressmen/women how does it feel to have your private conversations wiretapped for no particular reason? I for one would love to be able to listen in on what type of deals you are making with corporations to benefit them and not the American public you swore to protect. You know, if the NSA is doing this they already have a lot of dirt on you for black mail in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you are being black mailed right this minute.

    OH!!!! WHAT A FEELING!!!!! Couldn’t happen to a nicer group.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  68. rick

    If they are smart they are spying you toads.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  69. fekt

    Expect the Senator along with the rest of Congress to fix this oversight A.S.A.P. It will probably be hidden in a budget plan. Perhaps this will get the extension of unemployment benefits passed. All you have to do is add an earmark making it a crime to spy on a member of congress or their staff and family. I'm sure such a bill would pass both the House and the Senate with an overwhelming majority.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  70. John Maroney

    The NSA might as well change it's name to the ISA (International Surveillance Administration). They are spying on absolutely everybody, all over the planet. It needs to stop.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  71. Jim

    No need to worry – there is no intelligence to be gathered from senators

    January 4, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  72. RAUL

    NSA = corporations are people now .. money is speech .. last i saw corporations didnt reproduce and ive stared at a dollar for over an hour on my table have yet to hear it ask me or say something.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Reply
  73. codeblitz

    Why has someone not arrested the direct of the NSA? What is happening here?

    January 4, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  74. Bruce

    Cut NSA Off at The BILL$ !

    January 4, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  75. Paladin

    Exactly, who gave the NSA authority to spy on Americans? NSA was setup for foreign intelligence gathering not spying on domestics, so who are these guys!

    January 4, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • jeremyagross

      Behind the times much? Who gave them the power to spy on US citizens? Why, the politicians currently asking if they're also being spied on, of course.

      January 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Reply
    • ItSoNlYmE

      It's called the Patriot Act. And it should make cold shivers go down your spine.

      January 4, 2014 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  76. ditdahdit

    More likely they're spying for our fine Senators and Reps. Especially those on the committees determining the NSA's budget. You control the money, you control the agency.

    January 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Reply
    • James

      Wrong. 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.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  77. 1010101010

    I AM GLAD! if the NSA can spy on me. by all means, spy on Congress, and on the Supreme Court, and on the Senate! The NSA is worst than the government in Orwell's 1985!

    January 4, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Reply
    • Major Tom

      The Congress includes the Senate. So when you say "Congress and the Senate" you reveal what a total m0r0n you are.

      George Orwell wrote "1984". There was no sequel named "1985".

      Worse than, not "worst than". Numbnuts.

      January 4, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Reply
      • Mark

        Major Tom, please head over to a grammar website to partake in discussions or editing of the English language. In here, shut your trap unless you have something relevant to say about the article.

        January 4, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
    • 2plus2

      Much Worse!

      January 4, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  78. James M. Atkinson

    Yes, Senator Bernie Sanders, the NSA is in fact spying on all of your telephone calls, and they are recording every E-Mail text message, Voice-mail, and they are recording every single thing that you say on your office phone, your home phone, and your cellular and cordless phones, without exception.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  79. Pax

    Mr. President–is the America you wanted? Sure not the America I want.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  80. mindstorms1

    Why would NSA spy on congress? They don't want to be bored to death considering congress doesn't do anything worth spying on.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  81. G_Edwards

    Mr President....you're always so concerned about "being on the right side of history," when are you going to do something????

    Or are you just going to go with the recommendations provided and blame them if they're not strong enough in defense of American's freedoms and liberty?

    .

    January 4, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  82. SOL

    i WANT TO KNOW WHO CAN GET ACCESS TO THE DATA... THE WORD CAN IS PARAMOUNT.. NOT WHO IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE ACCESS TO IT.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  83. Bill

    Would be nice to know all the dirt going on in congress. Who is bought by whom and who benefits?What foreign interest
    pull the strings behind every vote? Of course this is nothing new, Edgar Hoover used what he had in his disposal of his days to keep tab on who was who in power.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • ditdahdit

      Only two presidents ever openly discussed replacing J Edgar, Kennedy and Nixon. Both of them went before he did.

      January 4, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • Doris Dehne

      You can find out who supports whom at opensecrets.org. For example, I found out that my congressman, Steve Womack, got $13,000 from Wal Mart, which didn't surprise me since I live about thirty miles south of Wal Mart's headquarters. What did surprise me is that he got $6,000 from Boeing.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  84. TheBob

    Did it just occur to these dimwits that the NSA might have been spying on them? LOL! OF COURSE THEY HAVE, THEY ARE AND THEY WILL continue to spy on them.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  85. Chris

    The NSA is right-wing extremism gone amok. First they wanted to peer into the bedrooms of the American people. Now they want to peer into every facet of us. Shut the right-wing extremist organization down!

    January 4, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Reply
    • tampajoey

      Does being that stupid hurt?

      January 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Reply
      • Chris

        You tell me.

        January 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
    • Tom

      Right wing? The guy works for the Obama administration and the President has the authority to can him or require changes to the program. All I've heard is more support for Clapper from Obama's top attorney, Holder. Yes, it may have started under Bush but it's Obama's football now and has been for the last almost 5 years. Quit the partisan BS.

      January 4, 2014 at 6:50 pm | Reply
      • Chris

        President Obama on more than one occasion has slipped up and embraced right-wing ideologies-like the NSA spying program championed by Bush and the GOP post 9-11. I agree he should move away from those right-wing ideas. I don't need the right-wing extremist peering into my bedroom nor my internet history and phone calls.

        January 4, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
    • tony

      Next – extra judicial arrests, then killings, then wholesale death squads. All in the name of "protecting the citizens".

      Standard stuff once you have secret police and they get the go ahead to "protect" in any political regime. Pinochet's Chile, Franco's Spain, Argentina, East Germany, and on and on. It's just new to the US, but with the latest Internet "we're god" technology, you can get away with anything.

      So soon they will.

      January 4, 2014 at 6:53 pm | Reply
      • Chris

        Agreed. V for Vendetta was a movie that came out before its time. They should show that movie in the theatres again to wake the rest of America up to what happens when right-wing extremism runs amok. We need to shut the NSA down now before it gets out of control.

        January 4, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
    • Wing nut

      Left-wing extremism favours a larger government. Right-wing extremism = no government.

      January 4, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Reply
      • dc

        I think you should explain that to Chris.....

        January 5, 2014 at 12:27 am |
    • jewishliberty

      Its so right wing extremist that it spies on right wing organizations. Youre a fool.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  86. Jenny Ruth Yasi

    I think it's a good thing. NSA is watching traffic. I know from our State's Governor that our elected officials are just regular people. If there is an extremist elected who wants to overthrow our democratically elected government, who wants to undermine our due process of law, and stage a coup, personally, I want the NSA to know about. You want private? Don't post messages that you don't want your government to hear. Who ever would expect the internet and other public datatransfer highways would be private? Um, duh Bernie Saunders, I think you're great but data is there for anyone to fish up. Numbskulls.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  87. Pax

    Mr. President–is this the America you wanted?–it is sure not he America I want.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  88. TQERTWERTQEERT345234

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    January 4, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  89. TQERTWERTQEERT345234

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    January 4, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  90. Francisco Decastro

    Out of all of the people in the United States, Congress should be the only one that it is okay to be spied on because what do THEY have to hide? Plus, aren't they the ones always talking about trasperency?

    Thinking about it, I wonder if they know Mitt Romney's tax returns. Mitt was never part of Congress but he was in the political world running for the presidency. NSA must have been all up on his stuff. Oh, to know what the NSA knows! I'd give a penny for every secret.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  91. logical thinker

    The president should be asking the nsa the same question.

    January 4, 2014 at 6:17 pm | Reply
    • Johnny 5

      The president is in on it as well. He gave the order to do so.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  92. Eva

    So the answer to your question Sir is this ... YES

    January 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Reply
    • tiredofit

      Congress needs to be spied on!

      January 4, 2014 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  93. TQERTWERTQEERT345234

    ANDERSON COOPER YOU ARE A SPY.

    ANDERSON COOPER TU ERES UN ESPIA.

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    January 4, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  94. George patton

    Either way, no one can believe a single thing the NSA says anymore. If I were the President, I'd shut this ignominious organization down in a heartbeat since Obama's to politically "correct" to do so himself!!!

    January 4, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • Monkey Hater

      WOW! You are an idiot.

      January 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • devon

      I wouldn't shut it down, but I would make them get a warrant instead of collecting all the data illegally from u.s. citizens.

      January 4, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  95. MEMETIC

    Indeed they do. And the Supreme Court as well.

    January 4, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Reply
    • tiredofit

      Absolutely...

      January 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Reply
    • ???

      I hope so. Supreme Court too. presidents and spouses too. and lobbyists. and corporations. and banksters. and foreign people, and their money.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Reply
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