Jan. 4, 2016, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement reacting to a Wall Street Journal report that National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Israeli officials netted conversations with members of Congress as they considered how to vote on the Iran nuclear deal:
“There is absolutely no excuse for the Obama administration to spy on Congress to gather information on an active piece of legislation, in this case the Iran nuclear deal. Congress has many roles in foreign policy, including the Treaty Power and consideration of other agreements with foreign governments. There has to be a bright line between those congressional deliberations and the executive branch on these agreements, which members are under no obligation to support. The executive branch can spy on any foreign government it wishes, but the moment it nets deliberations with members of Congress on active legislation, those conversations should have been immediately destroyed, not passed along.
“The most damning aspect of this is that reportedly the White House did not tell the NSA to stop once it knew it was intercepting conversations with Congress on what was an active political dispute between the branches of government. If true, these offenses would be impeachable. What did the President know and when did he know it? Congress was willing to impeach Richard Nixon, in Article 2, Section 2 of the Articles of Impeachment against him, for using electronic surveillance ‘for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office.’ Nixon resigned for similar surveillance against political enemies. You cannot say Nixon was horrible and had to go and then defend such an egregious abuse of power. There is too much at stake. Senate and House intelligence committees must convene hearings on this issue, and the Attorney General should appoint a special prosecutor immediately.
“To think what the NSA did was justified, you have to set aside the constitutional separation of powers and say it’s okay for the executive branch to spy on Congress whenever they meet with foreigners on legislation, which happens often when it comes to treaties, trade agreements and the like, just so the administration can win a domestic legislative debate. There is no other use these consultations would serve. These were legislative deliberations, not foreign intelligence. It cannot be both. Given the context, where the Israeli Prime Minister had been actively invited to Congress to speak on the issue, and was publicly opposed to the deal along with many members of Congress for perfectly valid reasons, there is no case to be made that this was espionage or a significant source of foreign intelligence.
“Not to be missed is, as the leading Senate Democrat opposed to the deal and perhaps the most heavily lobbied member of Congress on the issue, the strong likelihood that Senator Charles Schumer’s conversations were captured and forwarded to the White House. It has been a source of wonder that Schumer’s opposition was so ineffective in bringing other Democrats along, and it is reasonable to guess that the intelligence the NSA provided to the White House was used to thwart his efforts. One can be certain that if a Republican president had engaged in this illegal activity, Senator Schumer would be loudly calling for his or her impeachment. The integrity question for Schumer is whether he is willing to subject President Obama to those same standards, and lead an impeachment fight?”
NSA spying on Netanyahu, Congress over Iran nuke deal confirms worst fears, By Robert Romano, Dec. 31, 2015 at http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/31/nsa-spying-on-netanyahu-congress-over-iran-nuke-deal-confirms-worst-fears/
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