NSA Phone Program faces bi-partisan attacks during hearings

BREAKING: (Atlantic Wire) Chris Inglis, NSA deputy director, revealed today in hearings that analysts look “two or three hops” from terror suspects when evaluating terror activity. Previously, the limit of how surveillance was extended had been described as two hops. This meant that if the NSA were following a phone metadata or web trail from a terror suspect, it could also look at the calls from the people that suspect has spoken with—one hop. And then, the calls that second person had also spoken with—two hops. Terror suspect to person two to person three. Two hops. And now: A third hop. (That’s a whole lot of people!)

Full video will be available here when it is updated by CSPAN.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who sponsored the Patriot Act, objected strongly to the actions of the FISA court and the administration:

He later warned that there are not enough votes in the House now to renew Section 215 when the law is revisited. “It’s got to be changed,” he said. “And you’ve got to change how you operate 215 . . . or you’re not going to have it anymore.”

(Washington Post) Top Obama administration officials, appearing before a House committee to defend controversial government surveillance programs, ran into tough questions Wednesday from lawmakers of both parties, who expressed deep skepticism about the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and other communications…

The administration believes the programs “achieve the right balance” between protecting Americans’ safety and their privacy, said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

But in grilling Cole and other officials about the programs, Democrats and Republicans on the committee expressed concern that the collection of information is too broad and intrusive.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the panel, argued that collecting telephone metadata under Section 215 of the Patriot Act “can amount to a Fourth Amendment violation” before any use is made of it. “You’ve already violated the law as far as I am concerned,” he told the witnesses.

“I feel very uncomfortable about using aggregated metadata on hundreds of millions of Americans,” Conyers added. “This is unsustainable, it’s outrageous and must be stopped immediately.”

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