White House Defends NSA Data Collection

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 05-11-2006
The White House on May 11 defended a newly revealed domestic intelligence program in which the National Security Agency has been collecting the domestic phone call records from tens of millions of Americans since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In a statement to the press, President George W. Bush said that the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.

He added that congressional leaders have been briefed on the surveillance, and he said that the privacy of Americans is being protected.

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans," Bush said in his statement to the press. "Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates."

Bush then assailed the leak about the NSA data collection, saying that it hurts the government's ability to defeat the enemy.

Meanwhile, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took the White House to task for its collection activities.

"This secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans includes ordinary Americans not suspected of any crime or any contact with al-Qaida," Leahy said.

He added that he thinks the committee has had enough of stonewalling about these activities and said he plans to ask that the committee move ahead with an investigation.

Other organizations are also questioning the NSA's activity in collecting phone call data.

"A lot of us are starting to think the NSA has started to violate the law," said Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, on May 11.

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