On Friday January 3, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent a letter to the National Security Agency asking if “the agency has monitored the phone calls, emails and Internet traffic of members of Congress and other elected officials.” The agency responded on Saturday with a statement essentially admitting that they do.
NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons. NSA is fully committed to transparency with Congress. Our interaction with Congress has been extensive both before and since the media disclosures began last June.
If members of Congress have the same protections as all US persons, then obviously their metadata from their congressional and personal phones, lists of websites visited, email sent and other digital information is archived with the Agency. As the Congress gears up to hear some challenges to the NSA’s scope of authority, I wonder if that digital information might prove useful?
In other news, the NSA just got a 90 day extension from the FISA court to continue domestic phone record collection.