WASHINGTON – The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said she’s concerned about the idea that data collected from a National Security Agency program that harvests Americans’ phone records might be stored by others.
As part of a review of the NSA’s data collection, President Barack Obama directed Attorney General Eric Holder and the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to look into storing the data outside the government.
“I think that’s a very difficult thing,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview aired Sunday. “The whole purpose of this program is to provide instantaneous information to be able to disrupt any plot that may be taking place.”
Feinstein said privacy advocates may not understand the threat that exists against the U.S. “New bombs are being devised. New terrorists are emerging, new groups. Actually, a new level of viciousness. And I think we need to be prepared. I think we need to do it in a way that respects people’s privacy rights,” she said.
After disclosures fueled by secret documents provided to journalists by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, Americans and people abroad were shocked to learn the extent of the NSA’s surveillance activities. Obama said he was leaving most of the programs unchanged but was adding some restrictions.
Feinstein said she doesn’t think the NSA program will be shut down despite its critics and pointed to Obama’s desire to maintain its capability.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he, too, has some concerns about changing the NSA program but noted that he and Obama agree it’s legal and proper and has not been abused.