Wikimedia CommonsSenators on both sides of the political aisle moved to defend the National Security Agency’s collection of data from millions of Americans’ phone records, saying it has been an ongoing practice that has kept the United States safe.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters on Thursday that The Guardian’s revelation of the court order that compels Verizon to give data on millions of Americans’ calls is a standard three-month renewal of a practice that has been ongoing for about seven years.
Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee, also defended the practice.
“It’s called protecting America,” she said, according to reporter Jamie Dupree. Both she and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said the practice was legal under the Patriot Act.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Verizon customer, said he’s “glad” the NSA has been using phone data to try to “find out what the terrorists are up to overseas and in our country.”
“I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States,” Graham said on “Fox & Friends.”
Some Senators who have been critical of both the Bush and Obama administrations on civil liberties did express concerns about the practice.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for instance, tweeted a few references to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” And Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said in a statement that the White House “needs to be straight w/ American people about the breadth of its authority.”
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