WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s national security team has been arguing today that the government’s sweeping domestic surveillance powers need to be retained.
But in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, they acknowledged that some limits appear inevitable. They said they want to work with lawmakers who seem intent on imposing those limits.
The administration is facing unexpectedly harsh opposition from both parties over the formerly-secret program capable of sweeping up the phone records of every American.
Robert Litt, who’s counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told lawmakers that the administration is “open to re-evaluating this program” so that the public can be more confident that it protects privacy as well as national security.
For the first time, the government is acknowledging publicly that using what it calls “hop analysis,” it can analyze the phone records of millions of Americans in the hunt for just one suspected terrorist. That’s because NSA analysts can look not just at a suspect’s phone records, but also the records of everyone he calls, everyone who calls those people and everyone who calls those people.
160-a-03-(Deputy Attorney General James Cole, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee)-”the right balance”-Deputy Attorney General James Cole says the intelligence community is trying to strike the right balance between national security and civil liberties. (31 Jul 2013)
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158-a-13-(Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, during hearing)-”accountability and transparency”-Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy says the government already collects enough records. (31 Jul 2013)
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APPHOTO DCSA101: With a chart listing thwarted acts of terrorism, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., right, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, question top Obama administration officials on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 31, 2013, about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs for the first time since the House narrowly rejected a proposal last week to effectively shut down the NSA’s secret collection of hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone records. At the witness table, below, are, from left, National Security Agency Deputy Director John C. Inglis, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole, right. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (31 Jul 2013)
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