WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee says the top secret court order for telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon is a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California spoke to reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday after the Obama administration defended the National Security Agency’s need to collect the records.
Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, explained that the data is parsed by computers to try to find connections between suspicious phone numbers and possible terrorism threats.
“I read intelligence carefully, and I know that people are trying to get to us. This is the reason why we keep TSA doing what it’s doing. This is the reason why the FBI now has 10,000 people doing intelligence on counterterrorism,” Feinstein said.
Other lawmakers have said previously that the practice is legal under the Patriot Act although civil libertarians have complained about U.S. snooping on American citizens. Feinstein stated that the business records provisions were “widely debated” both in the Intelligence Committee and during floor debate to reauthorize the provision in prior years.
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