A member of Congress representing New York is demanding an investigation of the National Security Agency’s spying on Congress. And how the Obama administration is involved.
“If the latest reports are true, laws were broken and there must be accountability for all responsible,” Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a prepared statement.
Multiple reports this week, including some at the Wall Street Journal, documented that the White House was using secret surveillance to keep tabs on a number of world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The government captured a number of communications between Netanyahu and his aides.
But the reports confirmed that while spying on foreign leaders, the NSA also “swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers…”
The Journal reported that raised the obvious circumstance that “the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.”
The report said, “In closed-door debate, the Obama administration weighed which allied leaders belonged on a so-called protected list, shielding them from NSA snooping. French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders made the list, but the administration permitted the NSA to target the leaders’ top advisers, current and former U.S. officials said. Other allies were excluded from the protected list, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of NATO ally Turkey, which allowed the NSA to spy on their communications at the discretion of top officials.”
The report continued, “Privately, Mr. Obama maintained the monitoring of Mr. Netanyahu on the grounds that it served a ‘compelling national security purpose,’ according to current and former U.S. officials. Mr. Obama mentioned the exception in his speech but kept secret the leaders it would apply to.”
Zeldin, co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, said Congress and the Department of Justice need to investigate spying that included members of Congress.
“First off, Israel is a trusted ally of the United States of America and should be respected as such. The NSA’s spying of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top level Israeli leadership harms our relationship with our greatest friend and ally in the Middle East. Furthermore, and especially concerning, the NSA should not have been recording the conversations between members of Congress and Israeli leadership. It appears that laws may have been broken.”
Zeldin himself has met with Netanyahu.
“Israel is a beacon of freedom and democracy in a region of the world that is filled with darkness,” he continued, “America’s foreign policy should be one that strengthens our relationships with our allies and treats our enemies as our enemies. These new details about the NSA’s spying does nothing to strengthen our relationship with Israel and other allies around the world. If only the Obama administration would channel a fraction of its bias against Israel towards more responsible policy towards Iran, America would be made more secure today and in the future.”
He continued, “Putting the spying of Israeli leadership aside for a moment, in what interpretation of national security can the president of the United States justify using National Security Agency assets to spy on members of Congress? Is this really for national security or is it for political gain? The Obama administration must disclose the entirety of its role in this questionable activity. The United States Department of Justice should appoint a special prosecutor and the United States Congress should investigate the Obama administration and National Security Agency to pursue full clarity and accountability regarding this deeply troubling activity.”