In his online chat on the Guardian newspaper web site, NSA leaker Edward Snowden said members of Congress have 'special immunity' from snooping by the intelligence agency.
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden answered questions from ordinary folks Monday on a Guardian newspaper online chat. It was a technical first of sorts – a virtual public news conference by someone who’s in a lot of trouble and does not wish to make public their precise location.
So did he reveal anything new? Yes – among other things, he charged that US lawmakers are themselves shielded against NSA snooping.
This came on his very last answer in the chat, after Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald asked him if he had anything to add. Mr. Snowden said that just because you – as in “you, the average citizen” – are not an NSA target does not make the agency’s programs OK.
That’s because civil liberty protections built into NSA procedures are no replacement for having the information gathering limited to individuals who have already fallen under suspicion.
“This is the precise reason the NSA provides Congress with a special immunity to its surveillance,” Snowden added.
Is this true? As national security expert blogger Marcy Wheeler points out, it’s certainly feasible to block the NSA from access to all official congressional numbers. But given the multiple communications devices common to congressional aides and campaigns, plus personal stuff, it might be challenging to actually wall off Congress from any inadvertent NSA collection.