Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.,center, talks with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, left, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, prior to the start of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and National Security Agency (NSA) call records. Lawmakers who oversee US intelligence agencies are working to expand the government's spying powers to allow the FBI to immediately begin electronically monitoring terror suspects who travel to the United States and who already were under surveillance overseas by the NSA. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Senators: Limit NSA snooping into US phone records
First Published Sep 27 2013 08:15 am • Last Updated Sep 27 2013 10:05 am

Washington » Leading senators unveiled proposed changes to the way the National Security Agency gathers U.S. records in its hunt for overseas terrorists or spying targets, and top intelligence officials said they would cooperate to try to win back the public trust, following disclosures about the extensive NSA collection of telephone and email records of millions of Americans.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan leadership used a hearing Thursday to promote legislation to change the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The lawmakers seek to trim NSA’s authority to access and analyze U.S. phone records and provide new protections to Americans’ privacy. They also want to broaden the government’s spying powers to allow monitoring of terror suspects who travel to the U.S. after being tracked overseas by the NSA.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the committee, said the legislation would "strictly limit access to the ... phone metadata records, expressly prohibit the collection of the content of phone calls" and limit the amount of time such U.S. phone call data could be kept.

She said the bill, which could be passed by her committee as early as next week, would "change but preserve" bulk record collection.

Such records show the date and length of calls and the numbers dialed.

Feinstein’s proposed legislation would not stop the bulk collection of telephone and email records. A separate bipartisan group of four senators unveiled legislation earlier this week to end those bulk collections.

One of those senators, Mark Udall, D-Colo., challenged the head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, on just how far his agency could go when gathering those records.

"Is it the goal of the NSA to collect the phone records of all Americans?" Udall asked at Thursday’s hearing.

"Yes, I believe it is in the nation’s best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox that we could search when the nation needs to do it. Yes," Alexander replied.


story continues below
story continues below

Udall’s counterpart on the committee in proposing more stringent limits, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Alexander whether the NSA had ever collected or made plans to collect Americans’ cellphone signals to track the movements of individual callers.

Alexander answered both times that the NSA was not collecting such data and would have to ask for court approval if it wanted to.

Questioned further, he cited a classified version of the letter that was sent to senators and said, "What I don’t want to do ... is put out in an unclassified forum anything that’s classified."

Wyden promised to keep asking.

The testy exchange at the hearing illustrated the wider tension that has grown between the public and the U.S. intelligence community since the disclosures of widespread NSA collection of Americans’ telephone and email records by a former NSA systems analyst, Edward Snowden.

Feinstein and the committee’s top Republican, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, defended U.S. intelligence efforts, as did Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who insisted that while bulk U.S. records are collected, analysts don’t listen in on individual Americans’ phone calls or read their emails without a court order.

Clapper told the committee he was willing to consider limiting both how U.S. telephone and email data collected by NSA is used and the amount of time it is stored.

He said he’s also open to other changes, such as appointing an independent official to oppose the government in hearings before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret federal panel that considers all government surveillance requests.

———

Follow Kimberly Dozier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kimberlydozier



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.