"The correct answer would be to say, 'No,'" Kirk interrupted.
In other words, Attorney General Holder could not give Senator Kirk the assurance that he was not being spied upon by the US government.
Bottom Line: Israeli Control over Congress
Israel's influence over the US Congress is exercised through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, commonly known as AIPAC. AIPAC is the lead organization in what is referred to as the Israel Lobby. Secretary of Defense Hagel was chastised in his confirmation hearing for having used the term "Jewish Lobby." So let there be no doubt, the group of individuals and organizations that lobby for the benefit of the State of Israel is the Israel Lobby.
The Israel Lobby's main lever of power over US Middle East policy is its control of Congress--House and Senate. Some of that power derives from generous campaign contributions to members of Congress by the Israel Lobby and its supporters. Unlike the National Rifle Association (NRA), for example, which has a single political action committee (PAC) the Israel Lobby has several dozen PACs , which can be centrally controlled by a web of interlinked directorships and other personal relationships. If the effects of positive campaign contributions are insufficient, however, the more effective method of directing large amounts of contributions to a primary election opponent usually works. A single PAC can only legally give $10,000 to a single candidate every two years. But 20 PACs, in a coordinated effort, could come up with $200,000. If provided to an opponent in a primary contest, this could have a real impact on an election. To avoid this possibility, most members of Congress go along with whatever the Israel Lobby requests.
The possibility raised by Senator Kirk that the US Administration might get a "unique leverage over the legislature" would apply equally well to other entities, such as pro-Israel operatives with access to "the backbone of the surveillance system." Further, if Israeli intelligence is of such concern to the NSA that it lists Israel as one of the major targets of its large counter-intelligence program it is not far-fetched to be alarmed about its use. Israeli firms' access to the NSA surveillance program, if used to monitor the communications of members of Congress and their staff, could provide Israel that "unique leverage" that was of concern to Senator Kirk. Just the knowledge of the potential for such surveillance would be sufficient to keep most congressmen in line.
Israeli influence over the US government's Middle East policies, military aid to Israel, aid to Egypt in support of policies friendly to Israel, US veto protection of Israel in the UN and beneficial trade arrangements all ultimately depend upon control over Congress by the Israel Lobby. It does this by controlling the votes of over 90 percent of Representatives and Senators routinely on most issues affecting Israel. In fact, House and Senate votes in favor of Israel are typically more like 98 percent affirmative. AIPAC and the rest of the Israel Lobby exercises this control through campaign contributions, support of primary election opponents, and perks such as free trips to Israel for congressmen, members of their families and their staff employees.
Graphical representation of relationships described
NSA Israeli Congressional Linkages by L. Toenjes
Diagram by L. Toenjes
The surveillance of the communications of congressmen and their staffs is one more tool at the disposal of the Israel Lobby to maintain its control over Congress.
If members of Congress are concerned, as they should be, about the possibility that the Administration might monitor their telephone calls, they should be equally concerned that individuals or organizations working for the State of Israel are likely doing the same.
US citizens should be outraged that virtually all of our communications are being intercepted, monitored, and analyzed by the US government, without proper judicial warrants. Likewise, the additional possibility that communications of our representatives in Congress are being intercepted and used for the purpose of manipulating them for the benefit of a foreign government should add to that outrage.
Israeli spying on the US has been going on for decades and has been written about extensively. But to see acknowledgement of such spying within the never-before-public NSA budget gives it an unmistakable stamp of authenticity and urgency. The same technology appears also to be used for US/Israeli eavesdropping on conversations of leaders of many other countries, including the presidents of Brazil and Argentina. They don't like it, I don't like, and most US citizens don't like it.Final word
It is asserted above that Israel and the Israel Lobby control the US Congress on matters pertaining to the Middle East. Following is my reasoning behind this assertion.
Illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been the main stumbling block to a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The original source of the conflict was the expulsion of an estimated 750,000 Palestinians from their homes inside what is now Israel, and the denial of their right to return to their homes. Those homes were either inhabited by Jews or destroyed by them.