The National Security Agency on Friday told Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that it cannot reveal whether the agency has been targeting members of Congress in its metadata collection because doing so would violate privacy provisions accorded to civilians in the program, the Huffington Post reported Tuesday.
"Among those protections is the condition that NSA can query the metadata only based on phone numbers reasonably suspected to be associated with specific foreign terrorist groups," NSA chief Keith Alexander wrote in a letter to Sanders.
"For that reason," he added, "NSA cannot lawfully search to determine if any records NSA has received under the program have included metadata of the phone calls of any member of Congress, other American elected officials, or any other American without the predicate."
Alexander did say that the NSA does not spy on lawmakers.
"Nothing NSA does can fairly be characterized as 'spying on Members of Congress or American elected officials,'" he wrote.
In early January Sanders asked the NSA if it has spied on any members of Congress or other elected officials.