Congress Seeks Investigation Into Obama Spy Ops on Congress, Israel

Lawmakers demand Obama administration disclose how it used private communications

Barack Obama
January 4, 2016

Lawmakers are demanding that the Obama administration disclose how it used private communications that were intercepted during a massive spy operation on Israel that included private conversations with members of Congress, according to letters sent to the National Security Agency and White House.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) petitioned President Barack Obama late Monday afternoon, demanding the administration reveal how it used information obtained during secret surveillance of Israeli leaders, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Reports emerged last week that the NSA’s spy operation picked up private communications between Israeli officials, members of Congress, and U.S. Jewish community leaders. The information reportedly centered on Israeli efforts to halt the nuclear negotiations. The White House reportedly did not take steps to ensure that these political conversations were omitted.

DeSantis, who along with several other lawmakers has already requested that the NSA provide Congress with details of the operation, informed the Obama administration late Monday that he is seeking to learn if the information gleaned from these private conversations was used by the White House to sway the national debate over the Iran nuclear agreement.

"I am concerned that the vague guidelines and policies used by the NSA for intelligence collection and sharing, in conjunction with elusive direction from the Administration, have led to intelligence being collected on sitting members of Congress for political purposes, specifically relating to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was being negotiated at the time this information was collected," DeSantis wrote.

The lawmaker is further requesting that the White House reveal if this information was shared with any other country, particularly other members of the international negotiating team that struck the nuclear accord with Iran last year.

"Did the White House receive any communications between Israeli officials and members of Congress regarding the nuclear negotiations and agreement with Iran?" Desantis asks.

"How was this information used by the Administration in the course of the JCPOA negotiations?" he follows up.

The White House also should disclose whether the information collected was "used by White House officials during the political debate in the United States about the Iran deal," according to the letter.

DeSantis and three other lawmakers requested last week that the NSA turn over all information pertaining to how the program was run and how the information collected could be used.

Congress must continue to investigate the spy program to determine if the Obama administration violated laws pertaining to the separation of powers, DeSantis said in a statement.

While the Obama Administration was negotiating a nuclear deal with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, they were simultaneously spying on and trying to undermine our closest ally in the region, Israel," he said. "This spying may very well have swept up the communications of members of Congress, which represents an affront to the separation of powers."

"Congress needs to investigate how the Obama administration used this information and determine whether it shared information gleaned from this spying with Iran," according to DeSantis.