On Tuesday, a senior Justice Department official admitted that the NSA “probably” spies on Members of Congress. The admission came during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, where the official took hard questions from Congress. This is probably the first admission from the administration that Congressional Members may be involved in being spied on through the phone tapping program.
The National Security Agency “probably” collects phone records of members of Congress and their staffs, a senior Justice Department official conceded Tuesday.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole buckled under questioning from multiple lawmakers during a House Judiciary Committee hearing reviewing proposals to reform the NSA’s surveillance activity.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, began by asking Peter Swire, a member of the president’s handpicked surveillance review board, whether lawmakers’ numbers are included in the agency’s phone-records sweeps. Swire protested that he was not a government official and couldn’t best answer the question, but said he was unaware of any mechanism that “scrubbed out” member phone numbers from the agency’s data haul.
Lofgren’s time expired and Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, then put the question to Cole.