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Magnifico has a diary currently on the Recommended List highlighting the explosive New York Times story about the NSA wiretapping Americans in a systemic way outside the law.  However, I want to highlight one aspect of the article that is particularly disturbing.  And that is this:

And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

If we can find out who that was, what is now a big story among those of us concerned about civil liberties, will have much further reach.

Spencer Ackerman over at the Washington Independent has been doing his own sharing of speculation on who it was hereand here.  His first guess was mine as well:


And in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

   The agency believed that the congressman, whose identity could not be determined, was in contact — as part of a Congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 — with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance, the official said. The agency then sought to eavesdrop on the congressman’s conversations, the official said.

   The official said the plan was ultimately blocked because of concerns from some intelligence officials about using the N.S.A., without court oversight, to spy on a member of Congress.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) visited the Palestinian territories during that time. Daphne, please weigh in.

However, the article refers to a congressMAN, so maybe they mean a male member of the House.  Ackerman did a follow up post casting the net wider:

My first guess was Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who visited the West Bank in January 2006. But why stop there? In March 2005, a so-called CODEL traveled to Iraq, Jordan, Israel Lebanon and Egypt. On the trip were Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Darrel Issa (R- Calif.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), James McGovern (D- Mass.), and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.).

Those weren’t the only ones. Another March 2005 CODEL featured members taking a survey of Mideast democratization efforts. On that trip: Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.),  Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), and then-Rep. E. Clay Shaw (R-Fla.). They went to the Palestinian territories, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus and two other countries I didn’t immediately identify.

Let’s continue. January 2006: a congressional delegation goes to Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Middle East enough? That one had then-Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.), Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.), Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), Rep. Melissa Hart (R-Penn.), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) and Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.).

Then there was a December 2006 senatorial CODEL to Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) brought back photos.

All in all, he came up with 27 names, but there could be more.  

Greg Sargent also wants to know:

Really? Note that there was an active attempt by the NSA to wiretap a member of Congress. Who was it? Seems worth finding out.

It seems to me that we really, really, really need to get to the bottom of this.  In fact, I think this question should be asked every day until it is answered.  This is not a wiretap of huge swaths of anonymous people which is very difficult for our brains to completely comprehend.  This is wiretapping a person, perhaps someone we are all familiar with, quite likely a political opponent of then President Bush.  It makes what seems abstract very real.  Which will lead us to the following conclusion:  if they can spy on a powerful member of Congress, they can spy on us all.  

So far, by the way, the Right, after shrieking about a DHS report on right wing extremists, have not uttered a peep in reaction to this report.  Why am I not surprised?

Originally posted to beachmom on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:18 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When will this end? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why are these not bigger stories? How can we wiretap an elected official of this country without a warrant? When will these stories end? Will we ever get to the bottom of them?

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

    •  It's not even that big a story on dkos. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Which is a bit strange coming from what was FISA Central last summer.  Partisanship can be our own greatest enemy.  Doesn't matter if the Prez is R or D.  This sort of thing should not be allowed without a warrant.

  •  They Set Up the Ability To Monitor Everything (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooderservice, Maimonides, NMDad

    I always presumed they couldn't analyze everything, but if they could monitor everything, clearly it would let them analyze everybody in modest size populations. Surely a few thousands of individuals.

    As a one-time programmer, I have no conception of how a right of some kind of "privacy" could be created in the information age world, or how on earth it would be policed and defended if we were to establish such a right.

    Computers have such capability that there would probably need to be monitoring staff on duty 24/7 at every computer in the nation that has connectivity to the Internet.

    I don't see that privacy is physically possible. I like the idea; the old sounds inspiring in the Bill of Rights.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:26:11 AM PDT

  •  I'd laugh my ass off (5+ / 0-)

    if it were John McCain.

    "Would you like fries with that?" -Sarah Palin 6 years from now

    by NMDad on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:29:32 AM PDT

  •  Well, this inquiring mind wants to know. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, sabredance, sullivanst

    I am very curious about this now. How can they not know who it was. Someone knows something.

  •  I'm just guessing here... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but Congressman usually means, to me, male member of House of Representatives (you specify Senator if it's a Senator, and you mangle your syntax trying to avoid "man" if it's female).  Also, I'm presuming that it's a Democrat -- otherwise Issa would be on the list (I believe he has Lebanese ancestry) -- because I presume that NSA had enough political appointees and/or political savvy to stay away from Republicans.

    That leaves, from your list, Markey, Waxman, G. Miller, J. McGovern, and Peterson.

    Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, discussing outdoor adventures Tuesdays at 5 PM PDT

    by indigoblueskies on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:32:49 AM PDT

    •  Consider the source (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gooderservice, Jail the BFEE

      They were obviously not wanting to give too much away. In which case, "congressman" should be assumed to have the broadest possible range, and should probably be understood to include both Senators and women.

      I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong. - Bertrand Russell
      -5.38, -6.41

      by sullivanst on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:39:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This was done in 2005-2006, so Issa is safe (0+ / 0-)

      from scrutiny since he's such a darling of the rightwing nutters.

      My guess is Waxman in the House or Kerry in the Senate.

      <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

      by bronte17 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:48:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bachmann's been making treasonous statements (0+ / 0-)

    but I guess that would have immunized her to investigation under the previous administration.

    "When your enemies are throwing Teabagging Protests, mock them." -- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    by Maimonides on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:33:39 AM PDT

  •  Sen. Blutarsky. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    I just upgraded internet speed. Now I can be late to the best diaries, faster.

    by mississippi boatrat on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:34:09 AM PDT

  •  Representative Keith Ellison... (0+ / 0-)

    ...first Muslim elected to Congress (and who Glenn Beck asked in an interview to prove that he's not working with US enemies).

    Just a thought...!

    "Republicans, I think you are confusing tyranny with losing." (Jon Stewart)

    by WobegonGal on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:41:02 AM PDT

  •  What about Bob Ney (from Ohio) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jail the BFEE

    because he speaks Farsi, remember?

    Yeah, yeah, I know he's a Republican, but he must've
    pissed somebody off.

  •  I'm betting on Josh Marshall to come up with (0+ / 0-)

    THE answer.  After reading the article, he was the first person I thought of who might actually figure out who this person is.  I even immediately went to TPM to see if he had posted the answer yet, but he hadn't.

    Or maybe Seymour Hersch will tell us.

    If tax cuts create jobs, then why aren't the Bush tax cuts that are still in effect creating jobs?

    by gooderservice on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:51:44 AM PDT

  •  Where did this buck stop? OVP? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    No mere GS-15 or Colonel in the bowels of NSA would dare sift through a Congressman's communications unless he had authorization (or, more probably, explicit orders) from much higher up.

    I'll place a small wager that the orders came directly from the Office of the Vice President. Did either Michael Hayden or Keith B. Alexander (who took over as DIRNSA from Hayden in May, 2005 when Hayden became DCI) serve as a willing accomplice?

    Could this finally be the straw that broke Dick Cheney's felonious back?

  •  I'm guessing that they eavesdropped (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    on most Democratic leaders.  This was what was going to win the election for the republicans.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:54:44 AM PDT

  •  I bet it was John Kerry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karenc, sabredance

    So far, the time, year these wiretaps were done is not known. I bet there were wiretapping of many congress people going back to at least late 2001 and 2002. This could be the reason so many Dems went along (blackmail maybe) with Bushes policies.

    It has always been my contention, that George Bush and his traitors, intentions were to drain the country of its resouces, place more wealth in the hands of a selected few citizens and destroy the constitution, mostly by using a complicit media. His (bushes)actions confirm this. He did what he wanted to do, without accountability or questions from those in power and the media.

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      and I'll bet part of the reason that Congress and the Dems haven't more strongly opposed the NSA taps is that they know that some of the dirt will see the light of day during an investigation and not just because of blackmail.

      Remember when Pelosi and Reid went to talk to Bush about the NSA taps; they came out of the WH with their tails between their legs...

  •  Just as a reminder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Here's the actual text of the Constitution, emphasis added:

    Article 1. Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.

    Spying on legislators IS the stuff of police states.  It's in the Constitution because strong-arming Members of Parliament had been done time and again -- by the King, by the New Model Army, by rebellious noblemen.

    President Obama - you TAUGHT this stuff - you know damned well exactly why these clauses exist in our Constitution.

    "Don't do it again" isn't anything like enough.

    It's the community, stupid. Also, Churchill got it backwards - I'm more radical now than I ever was as a kid

    by Dan E in Blue Hampshire on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:23:42 AM PDT

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