Rep. Nadler clarifies NSA ‘cannot listen’ to calls without warrant

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Sunday he does not believe that the National Security Agency can listen to Americans’ phone calls without a warrant.

“I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant,” Nadler said in a statement to several news outlets.

The comment follows a Saturday story in CNET, which was updated Sunday, about domestic phone calls in which Nadler said he was told in a classified briefing that eavesdropping without a warrant was allowed.

A Sunday post on ZDNet, a sister site to CNET, notes that “We're pulling the plug on this story” following Nadler's new comment.

The CNET story is drawn from Nadler’s comments during a public exchange at a Thursday House hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller, in which Mueller contradicts the idea of warrantless wiretapping and Nadler seeks clarification.

The Atlantic magazine’s website unspools the whole thing here.

Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who recently disclosed information about the NSA's internet surveillance and phone data collection, has alleged that analysts had sweeping abilities to tap into communications.

“Not all analysts have the power to target anything. But I, sitting at my desk, had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email,” he said in an interview published June 9 with the Guardian, one of two papers that worked with Snowden to disclose information about the NSA programs.

But those claims have received heavy pushback.

In addition to Nadler’s comment, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Sunday called Snowden’s claim incorrect during an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told CNN Sunday that the NSA “is not listening to Americans phone calls and it is not monitoring their emails.”

This story was updated at 5:40 p.m.

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