A key intelligence document obtained by the Intercept on Wednesday revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) leaked social calendar information of some of the most senior Republican members of Congress, including Florida Representative Devin Nunes, as part of an ongoing campaign to identify and embarrass those members who hold positions of political authority in Washington.
The document, a May 1, 2018, NSA memo titled “Operation AMEN,” also includes a timeline detailing how the NSA began targeting the names of Republican congressional staffers in May 2018.
The memo describes how, in the summer of 2018, the NSA started targeting social media accounts of members of the House Intelligence Committee who are known to have been involved in congressional investigations of Russia.
The targeting began with the committee’s chair, Representative Mike Rogers, who has repeatedly denied that he ever had any contact with Russian officials, according to an August 24, 2018 letter written by Rogers to the House committee chairwoman, Representative Adam Schiff.
“During the summer, the committee began receiving requests from the intelligence community to obtain information on certain members of this Committee,” the letter reads.
“In response, the Intelligence Community began receiving a request from the House Committee to obtain social media calendar information from members of [the House Intelligence] Committee.
As part of this effort, the intelligence Community began to collect a large amount of information about members of each Committee.”
The memo does not say when the intelligence agency began targeting members of congressional committees.
“These are the kinds of things we have seen with other intelligence agencies, but we did not use that in this case,” said Robert Litt, a former deputy national intelligence director under President Obama who now works as a cybersecurity consultant and intelligence analyst.
“The idea is to go after members who are not necessarily necessarily doing the right thing but they are seen as being in the wrong position.”
The Intercept reported on Wednesday that the documents were first shared with the media by a former government contractor who has said he had seen them.
“I saw them and they were so large, I thought they were too big for a laptop,” the former contractor told the Intercept, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive nature of the information.
“You’re dealing with hundreds of documents, you’re dealing on the scale of a book.”
The NSA also leaked the name of a prominent Democrat, Democratic Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, who is also a member of the Intelligence Committee, as well as the number of emails the agency was sending to Rohrabachers inbox on the eve of the California election.
The Intercept’s report did not name the former employee who first revealed the existence of the documents to the media.
Rohrabaches congressional office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“There’s an assumption that there are no boundaries,” said Mark C. Schiefelbein, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who served as chief counsel for the intelligence committees under President Barack Obama.
“But there is no expectation of privacy.”
The documents were released by a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source said the agency began spying on Rohrabachs emails in early October and continued spying on him until December 18, when the Intercept received a copy of the full memo.
The former employee also told the organization that the document was provided to the agency by a Russian intelligence officer in Moscow.
“That’s an example of the way they operate in Russia,” Schiefer said.
“They have no interest in trying to limit what they can do with the information that they have.”
The former intelligence official also told The Intercept that the agency had a policy that members of a committee, even if they are not known to be Russian intelligence officers, would be targeted by the intelligence agencies.
“It’s pretty clear that there’s no limit on what the intelligence services are doing,” Schiafelbeun said.
In a letter to the committee, the former official said he and other lawmakers believed that the information included names and addresses of members and staff who were not members of their committees.
The documents also show the extent to which the intelligence officials had access to Rohrbachs computers, as he was a frequent user of Twitter.
Rohrbacher was among the first lawmakers to publicly comment on the document, which he called “a slap in the face” of those who have worked to expose the Trump administration.
“If I had known that the Intelligence community was targeting my communications in the months before I was elected to Congress, I would not have even been aware of it,” Rohrabache said in a statement.
“This is exactly why I am so proud of the work of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Intelligence Committees and why I remain steadfast in our belief that our oversight of this intelligence community is critical to ensuring that the American people and our allies are safe.”
Schiff also tweeted that the NSA was targeting his office.
“A former senior intelligence official said the NSA had targeted the offices of several Republican congressmen who had no contact with the Russians