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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are blasting the Food and Drug Administration for secretly monitoring the emails of agency scientists who went public with allegations that they were pressured to approve certain medical devices.

In a report published Tuesday, House Republicans say the FDA's computer surveillance may have overstepped federal laws designed to protect government whistleblowers. Using software that took rapid fire screen shots of employees' computers, the FDA picked up emails from the five whistleblowers to members of Congress. Such communications are protected under federal law.

House Democrats defended the surveillance at a hearing Tuesday morning, pointing to the findings of the inspector general that oversees the FDA. In a report released ahead of the hearing, the inspector concludes that the surveillance was "reasonable" because the employees were leaking confidential information to the press. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Republicans Blast FDA For Secret Surveillance Of Whistleblowers

Republicans are blasting the Food and Drug Administration for secretly monitoring the emails of agency scientists who went public with allegations that they were pressured to approve certain medical devices.

02/26/2014

File photo of Rep. John Dingell  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Dingell, Longest-Serving Congressman, To Retire

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit’s auto industry, will announce his retirement on Monday, a person familiar with his plans said.

02/24/2014

(credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Boehner Buys Florida Condo

House Speaker John Boehner recently purchased a condo in southwest Florida sparking speculation about his future in Congress.

02/21/2014

File photo of voting booths. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

D.C. to Push Voting Rights Support in New Hampshire

A D.C. councilmember is in New Hampshire to try to get support for District of Columbia voting rights in Congress.

02/20/2014

File photo of the U.S. Capitol building. (credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Dem Congresswoman Retiring After 1 Term

Democratic Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod says she will retire after one term and run for county supervisor in San Bernardino, Calif.

02/19/2014

This Dec. 2, 2013 photo shows a woman reading the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace internet site in Washington, D.C. (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Proposed Kansas Bill Blocks Obamacare Law Within State

Kansas Republicans who loathe the federal health care overhaul have embraced a national movement aimed at helping states opt out of its requirements, but backers conceded Tuesday that the effort depends on a power shift in Congress.

02/18/2014

credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Obama Touts Fuel-Efficient Trucks in Prince George’s County

Drawing a link between reduced fuel consumption and climate change, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that his administration will issue tougher fuel-efficiency standards for delivery trucks by March 2016.

02/18/2014

Democrats dream of driving U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell into retirement this year, ridding President Barack Obama of one of his fiercest opponents. Tea partyers have the same dream, but they say the Senate's Republican leader actually is too accommodating to Democrats.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Left And Right Both Battle To Boot McConnell From Senate

Democrats dream of driving U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell into retirement this year, ridding President Barack Obama of one of his fiercest opponents. Tea partyers have the same dream, but they say the Senate’s Republican leader actually is too accommodating to Democrats.

02/15/2014

File photo of President Barack Obama. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

Obama: Congress Must Finish Job On Minimum Wage Raise

President Barack Obama says Congress should finish the job he started by raising the minimum wage to $10.10.

02/15/2014

File photo of President Barack Obama. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama Seeking $1B From Congress To Help Communities Manage Climate Change Effects

President Barack Obama will offer millions of dollars in federal aid for drought-stricken California during a visit with farmers and ranchers Friday and outline plans to seek $1 billion from Congress to help communities manage the effects of climate change.

02/14/2014

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