First on CNN: Top intel officials say NSA didn't spy on members of Congress

Wall Street Journal: NSA spied on Israeli leaders
Wall Street Journal: NSA spied on Israeli leaders

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Story highlights

  • The testimony came in response to a Wall Street Journal report last month that said the U.S., while surveilling U.S. allies, also snooped on some members of Congress
  • On Wednesday, James Clapper, the director of the National Intelligence Committee, and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers told members of the House Intelligence Committee that no conversations including members were monitored

Washington (CNN)Top U.S. intelligence officials told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday that the National Security Agency did not spy on any members of Congress during last year's contentious Iran nuclear debate.

The testimony came in response to concerns raised by the panel about a Wall Street Journal report last month that said the U.S., while surveilling U.S. allies, also snooped on some members of Congress, according to members of the House Intelligence Committee who attended a classified briefing on the matter.
"They were not listening to or monitoring representatives or members of Congress," Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, who serves on the panel, told CNN.
The Journal reported that the NSA conducted surveillance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and inadvertently picked up conversations with members of Congress about the controversial nuclear agreement with Iran that Congress debated over the summer and fall. Netanyahu was a strong critic of the deal, and he and his administration communicated with members on Capitol Hill regularly during the negotiations and around the vote on legislation to allow the deal's implementation.
The Journal detailed how the NSA's surveillance of Netanyahu and other top foreign leaders who are close allies of the U.S. continued, even after President Barack Obama insisted more than two years ago that he would end the practice.
On Wednesday, James Clapper, the director of the National Intelligence Committee, and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers told members of the House Intelligence Committee that no conversations including members were monitored.
The top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, told CNN in a written statement that "There is no evidence that the intelligence community was spying on members, or that the laws and procedures governing any incidental collection on members of Congress were violated in any way."
Citing the classified nature of the briefing, members declined to discuss any issues surrounding any reported monitoring of Netanyahu.
After the Journal's report, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes announced his committee would investigate after the holiday recess, and Wednesday's classified briefing was the first opportunity to press Clapper and Rogers about the details of the report.
Stewart told CNN that officials admitted they didn't know the source of the Journal story, but were doing their own formal investigation to determine the source.
Another Democrat on the committee declined to get into specifics, but said he was satisfied after the session.
"I've been briefed on the matter. I asked tough questions of the panelists and am satisfied that all procedures were followed by the Intelligence Community," California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell told CNN after the closed door briefing, adding, "I will continue to be vigilant in making sure that all citizens and their constitutional rights are protected."
A source close to the House intelligence panel said the committee received a lot of the information it requested from the intelligence community about the allegations in the Journal story, and it has not decided what further steps it will take on the matter.