On Sunday’s “State of the Union” on CNN, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, insisted that although there have been allegations made to contrary, the National Security Agency isn’t listening in on Americans’ personal communications.
“I can’t tell you how strong we need to make this clear,” Rogers said. “The NSA is not listening to Americans’ phone calls, and it is not monitoring their emails. If it did, it’s illegal. It’s breaking the law.”
Host Candy Crowley asked Rogers if the intelligence agency still might be recording calls but not listening to them. Rogers replied that this was occurring only in certain circumstances.
“I could go get a warrant on a criminal case, yes, absolutely,” Rogers said. “But that’s very, very different. And I think they think that there’s this mass surveillance of what you’re saying on your phone call and what you’re typing in your emails. That is just not happening. And it’s important, I think, for people to understand because there’s all this misinformation about what these programs are.”
“That’s why I hope coming out and talking about how they’ve disrupted plots in this very narrow, very tight program will show Americans, hey, listen, they protected our privacy,” he continued. “They followed the rule. They have a court order. I mean, they’re doing this right, and it is protecting the United States from terrorist attacks being plotted from overseas. This is an important program to continue.”
Although Rogers was addressing the general question of phone eavesdropping, Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York last week claimed that the NSA can listen in on a phone call based solely on an analyst’s judgment and without a warrant. President Obama earlier this month declared, “Nobody is listening to your phone calls,” and called concerns about NSA domestic spying “hype.”