News & Politics

Obama Administration Spies on Congress, Democrats Shrug

The Obama administration’s loathing of Benjamin Netanyahu knows no bounds; nor, apparently, does its contempt for Congress:

Top Democrats in Congress are brushing off a report that U.S. intelligence intercepted communications between Israeli government officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said it is no secret that the U.S. and Israel spy on each other, even though they are allies.

“I’m not surprised,” he told The Hill. “I kind of think the report is much to do about nothing.”

Engel, a staunch supporter of Israel, said he met twice behind closed doors with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer during the heated debate over the nuclear agreement with Iran. He said Dermer presented the Israeli government’s case against the deal.

The New York congressman indicated he decided to oppose the deal based on details he learned in briefings from U.S. officials, rather than arguments made by the Israelis. He said he wouldn’t be concerned if his conversations with Dermer happened to be caught by American intelligence.

“I assume that everything I say — someone is listening. I am careful that what I say in public is what I say in private,” Engel said. “You just have to assume that when you’re a public person, what you say [could be monitored] … I don’t know what this really tells us.”

What that really tells us is that Engel supports a near-lawless administration that will keep pushing the bounds of tradition, propriety and moral decency until it has smashed them completely.

Engel’s comments come one day after The Wall Street Journal published a report saying the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on communications between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli officials during the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran. Private conversations with congressmen and American Jewish groups were reportedly swept up by the agency as Israeli officials lobbied against the Iran deal, according to the Journal.

The report raised eyebrows because it revealed how the U.S. continues to spy on some allies despite Obama’s pledge to reduce the scope of NSA snooping on friendly governments following disclosures made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. Republicans pointed to the surveillance as another example of Obama’s poor treatment of Israel.

Not just of Israel, Republicans: of Congress as well. But nobody in Congress seems to care.