Does the NSA spy on members of Congress?

One of Congress’ most vocal critics of U.S. government surveillance is demanding information about whether intelligence agencies spy on members of Congress.

{mosads}Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the author of the original Patriot Act, told the Justice Department in a letter he wants a response by March 28 to questions about whether and how intelligence agencies spy on lawmakers.

“It has been over a month and my colleagues and I have not received a response,” he wrote to U.S. Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole.

Last month, Cole testified to the House Judiciary Committee that officials at the National Security Agency (NSA) “probably” collect information about members of Congress.

Sensenbrenner, along with Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), sent a letter to Cole after the hearing asking him to expand on his testimony.

In the February letter, the lawmakers urged Cole “to clarify your testimony and fully disclose all of the ways in which the government conducts or may possibly conduct surveillance on Members of Congress.”

Sensenbrenner’s new letter also addresses recent information provided by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Earlier this week, Feinstein accused the CIA of snooping on computers used by her committee’s staff.

“Tapping into computers used by members of Congress and attempts to use the Justice Department to intimidate Congressional staff is a gross violation of the Constitutional principles of separation of powers,” Sensenbrenner wrote to Cole. “It paints an almost-Nixonian picture of an administration that believes it can act with impunity behind a veil of secrecy.”

Sensenbrenner is the co-author of the USA Freedom Act, which would end bulk data collection at the NSA, among other changes.

Tags Central Intelligence Agency Dianne Feinstein James Cole James Sensenbrenner
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