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Republicans seek answers from NSA on snooping

Republicans seek answers from NSA on snooping

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have requested that the National Security Agency (NSA) provide them with all guidance given to employees on intercepted communications that involve members of Congress.  

They made the demand a day after reports emerged that the Obama administration had authorized the NSA to collect the communications of Israeli government officials, including those with members of Congress regarding the Iran nuclear deal. 

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The report also says White House officials were initially worried when they realized what was happening but then decided to let the NSA decide what to share with the administration. 

"We didn't say, 'Do it,' " a senior U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal. "We didn't say, 'Don't do it.' "

Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzChaffetz: Congress will ‘absolutely’ look at 5B in waste at Pentagon Clinton opponents vow to continue their pursuit GOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency MORE (R-Utah) and three senior members of the panel — Republican Reps. Ron DeSantis (Fla.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), and Cynthia LummisCynthia LummisTrump's Interior candidates would play Russian roulette with West Trump eyes House members for Cabinet jobs Trump aide dodges questions about business dealings MORE (Wyo.) — on Wednesday sent a letter to NSA Director Michael Rogers, requesting information on how the agency handles communications involving lawmakers.

"These reports raise questions concerning the processes NSA employees follow in determining whether intercepted communications involved Members of Congress, and the latitude agency employees have in screening communications with Members of Congress for further dissemination within the Executive Branch," the letter said.

The lawmakers have given the NSA two weeks to comply and requested a briefing to all committee staff by 5 p.m. on Jan. 15. And House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said his panel is looking into whether the news reports are true. 

Meanwhile, the top House Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee brushed off concerns over the possibly intercepted communication.  

“I assume that everything I say — someone is listening. I am careful that what I say in public is what I say in private,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who opposed the nuclear deal with Iran and had discussed it with Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer. 

“You just have to assume that when you’re a public person, what you say [could be monitored]. ... I don’t know what this really tells us," he told The Hill.