Sunday, January 5, 2014

Did NSA Pick The Wrong Congress Person To Fight With?

Some people love him. Some people hate him.
My guess is U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt isn't
finished with the NSA quite yet.  

But almost everyone agrees that when Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, gets into a battle, he doesn't let go.

So it will be interesting, to say the least, now that the National Security Agency has basically blown off Sanders when he asked whether the agency spied on any member of Congress.

First of all, I get it that we have to spy and gather intelligence pretty intensely on our terrorist enemies, and I understand that work can get murky, messy and shady. I accept that. Somebody's got to do the dirty work, and that's the NSA's job.

However, it does seem the NSA has gotten a bit carried away, spying on anything that moves, it seems. And what do they do with all that information anyway? They don't seem like the most trustworthy bunch in the world, after all.

The Snowden leaks seem to indicate the NSA pretty much obtained information on everybody, and probably a lot of their work was illegal.

But hey, laws, schmaws. I'm sure the James Bond wannabes at NSA are having a grand old time collecting data on boring emails and phone calls.

I'm criticizing the NSA here, so I half expect their agents to show up at my door even before I finish writing this post, so they can arrest me for daring to complain about them, or something. My computer and cell phone are probably bugged now, too.

Oh well, if the NSA wants to read my boring emails about normal winter weather in Vermont, let them.

Anyway, the latest bit of trouble for the NSA came last week, when Sanders decided to make an inquiry. According to the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, here's what Sanders asked:

"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 available to the general public in the regular course of business?"

The good news is the NSA got back to Sanders pretty much right away. The bad news is, they didn't answer his question. Again, like or hate Sanders, you'd think a government agency would have a little more respect for a Congress person than that, just kind of blowing him off.

Here's part of the NSA's response to Sanders, according to the Free Press, which received this statement from an NSA PR person:

"NSA's authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of U.S. pesons.....Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons."

The NSA also said it is still reviewing Sanders' letter.

Well, that's surely a non-answer. Sanders didn't ask for WHICH members of Congress had been spied upon, if any. He just wanted to know whether it happened. The NSA could have protected privacy by answering Sander's question with a yes or a no, and leaving Congress people's names out of it.

So, reading between the lines, I guess the NSA's non-answer to Sanders is a yes, that they have been spying on Congress.  Some members of Congress, including Sanders, have not said kind things about the NSA, so maybe the agency is annoyed with them, and so maybe they are spying to get the dirt on them?

We may never know, but I bet Sanders will try to keep finding the answer. As I said he doesn't give up very easily.

Yeah, yeah, I know some of this is political posturing on Sanders' part.  But I love watching a good battle, and the one between Sanders and the NSA is going to be a good one, indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment