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NSA Doesn't Deny It Might Be Spying on Congress

In response to letter sent by Sen. Bernie Sanders, surveillance agency says members of Congress 'have the same privacy protections as all US persons.'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

The National Security Agency on Saturday did not deny that it may be spying on members of Congress, and said they "have the same privacy protections as all US persons."

"Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?" Sen. Sanders asked in his letter to the NSA. (Photo: AFGE/cc/flickr) The NSA issued the statement in response to a letter sent by Senator Bernie Sanders demanding to know if the agency has spied on elected officials.

"I am writing today to ask you one very simple question," the Independent Vermont senator wrote in his letter to NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander sent Friday. "Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?"

"'Spying' would include gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business," Sanders specified.

In their preliminary response, as CNN and the Guardian report, the agency responded:

“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."

“We are reviewing Senator Sanders’s letter now, and we will continue to work to ensure that all members of Congress, including Senator Sanders, have information about NSA’s mission, authorities, and programs to fully inform the discharge of their duties.”

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