Dear NSA Supporters: Will Confirmation They Spy On Elected Officials Give You Pause?

Back when the news came out about Angela Merkel’s phone being used to spy on her, I asked how we could be sure that the NSA were not using data to blackmail politicians and subvert democratic governments in other ways—and how we could not be sure they were not doing the same to our own:

What should bother you is this: Why would anyone believe that the NSA doesn’t do the same thing for rising political candidates. We have already seen collusion between IRS and Leftist groups to persecute Republicans who don’t support same sex “marriage.” You think the NSA only employs incorruptible neutral professionals? If you listen to what they say about Edward Snowden you know that is logically impossible according to our ruling class’ own testimony! And we already know about NSA agents stalking love interests. You think they’re not following political passions?

It could also be something more official. Jesse Ventura claims that, when he became governor of Minnesota, he was questioned on how he won the election by the CIA. The CIA confirmed the meeting, but not with many details. It would be hard for me to believe the NSA is not as much or more involved than the CIA was back in 1999.

So what confidence can we have that our candidates and elected representatives are not being blackmailed, or that inconvenient information is being released to affect elections—if not now, then in the near future?

Apparently, I am not the only one who has thought of this possibility. Senator Bernard Sanders, the socialist independent from Vermont, has written a letter to General Keith Alexander the Director of the NSA.

The Washington Times reports:

Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent, said in his letter that he was troubled by revelations that the NSA had listened in on calls made by foreign leaders, including allies of the U.S.

“I am writing today to as you one very simple question,” Mr. Sanders said. “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 made available to the general public in the regular course of business.”

I can’t imagine Alexander answering this question. There is not even a lie he could tell that would benefit the NSA. If he says that he has never spied on an elected official (whether that is true or not), then he would be admitting that there are limits that the NSA should respect under our Constitution. And if it is right to allow people to elect representatives without them being spied upon by an unelected military bureaucracy, then what about allied governments where the people elect their leaders. While the Constitution does not officially give rights to foreigner, I think ethical consistency still compels people to expect the NSA to respect the integrity of an allied government.

So here are my questions:

Do you believe the NSA has resisted the temptation of spying on our elected leaders?

Do you think it would be a criminal act for them to do so?