NSA Official: Phone-Snooping Foiled a Lone Plot

Surveillance orders declassified

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 1, 2013 12:58 AM CDT | Updated Aug 1, 2013 6:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Skeptical senators from both parties yesterday quizzed top intelligence officials about the NSA's sweeping domestic call surveillance at a testy Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Ahead of the hearing, the Obama administration declassified and released documents outlining the rules for accessing information from the surveillance program and listing multiple violations of those rules, reports the Wall Street Journal. Key parts of the files including terms used to search phone data were blacked out, the BBC notes.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the committee's chairman, accused the administration of exaggerating the program's success. "If this program is not effective, it has to end. So far, I’m not convinced by what I’ve seen," he said, noting that information provided to Congress didn't back up the administration's claim that the program foiled 54 terrorist plots, the Washington Post reports. Under questioning from Leahy, Deputy NSA Director John Inglis admitted that the phone-snooping had "made a contribution" in foiling 12 domestic plots, but had been the critical factor in just one. As the hearing was in progress, Edward Snowden released information on another far-reaching NSA surveillance program.

Top intelligence officials prepare to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Top intelligence officials prepare to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Just because we have the ability to collect huge amounts of data does not mean that we should be doing so. - Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.)

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