(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Senator Mark Udall has been one of the most consistent critics of the NSA and CIA over the NSA's spying, the CIA's torture policies, and various other national security issues. This is a good thing and anyone would agree it's difficult to criticize a National Security Establishment that is more costly and more powerful than ever, and that has quite obviously abused its funds and power against the very citizens it seeks to protect.
All this power, money and sophisticated technology has done very little for our national security, as President Obama's review panel recently found the NSA did not stop any terror attacks while using these vast, unchecked resources.
As a further response to the many stories of NSA spying overreach and incompetence, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont decided to ask another key question.
"Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?” Sanders asked in a letter to Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director. “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?”
Now, the NSA has been known to lie before. Its Director, Keith Alexander, most likely lied to Congress about its phone tapping capabilities, which is a felony.
Responding to a letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders about whether the National Security Agency spies on Congress, the organization issued a statement Saturday saying its data-collection procedures protect people’s privacy — but the agency did not answer directly Sanders’ question.
“NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of U.S. persons,” the agency said in an email to the Burlington Free Press and other media outlets. “Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons.”
Senator Sanders will almost surely not accept this tepid answer from our nation's top spies. Mark Udall has been very critical of these same people. Knowing the number and types of spying they have engaged in, I wouldn't be surprised to learn they are also listening in on what members of congress are saying about their jobs and responsibilities, especially those members who are most critical.
Udall has been right to challenge the actions of these agencies that have been largely unaccountable to the American people. He should not let up now, especially went it looks like the NSA has been spying on the very people that would hold them accountable for their abuses of the Constitution and their documented incompetence.
No, it's not an easy job, but I'll support him on this.