A House of Representatives committee asked the National Security Agency on Wednesday for information about a media report that the agency, while spying on Israeli officials, also intercepted communications between the Israelis and members of Congress.
In a letter to NSA Director Michael Rogers, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and subcommittee Chairman Ron DeSantis said the story in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal raised “questions concerning the processes NSA employees follow in determining whether intercepted communications involved Members of Congress.”
The Journal, citing current and former U.S. officials, said the NSA was targeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials when they launched their campaign on Capitol Hill to try to derail the Iran nuclear deal.
Along with capturing the communications of Israeli officials, the spying swept up details about their lobbying efforts, including the contents of some of their conversations with lawmakers and Jewish-American groups, the Journal reported.
The letter from Chaffetz and DeSantis, both Republicans, asked Rogers to provide information on how the agency determines whether lawmakers’ communications have been caught up in NSA eavesdropping and the latitude agency employees have in passing on the intercepts to other U.S. agencies and the White House.
The committee also requested a briefing by the NSA for its staff.
The Journal reported that the NSA followed rules that required its intelligence reports to remove names of any Americans, including lawmakers, referenced in the Israeli communications that were intercepted.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney)