White House defends agency amid social ties report

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is defending the National Security Agency following a new report that the agency has been scanning the data it collects to map out some Americans’ social connections.

The New York Times reports the tracking started in 2010, allowing the government to identify some Americans’ associates, their locations at certain times and their traveling companions. The Times cites documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says he will not comment on specific intelligence activities. But he says the NSA’s activities are directed against foreign intelligence targets and geared toward targeting security risks like terrorism.

Carney says U.S. intelligence collection is similar to what other nations do. He says NSA’s procedures are approved by the attorney general and, in certain circumstances, a federal oversight court.

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