June 20, 2013
Two US senators have refuted President Barack Obama’s claim that the government’s controversial surveillance program has thwarted terrorist plots.
Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall said in a statement on Wednesday that the top US officials were wrong in their assertion that the secret National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program has disrupted more than 50 terrorist plans to attack the United States.
“Saying ‘these programs’ have disrupted ‘dozens of terrorist plots’ is misleading if the bulk phone-records collection is actually providing little or no unique value,” said the two senators, who are both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The statement contested Obama’s claim that Congressional lawmakers fully knew about the NSA program to collect tens of millions of domestic calling records from US phone companies, as well as spy on e-mail and other Internet material from foreign targets.
The two senators went on to recommend that government agencies investigating terrorism need simply obtain “this information directly from phone companies using a regular court order.”
“In our judgment, convenience alone does not justify the collection of the personal information of huge numbers of ordinary Americans if the same or more information can be obtained using less intrusive methods,” the two senators concluded.
Despite public outrage, Obama and the Director of US National Intelligence Agency James Clapper defended the massive surveillance efforts as “legal,” longstanding and well-known to the Congress.
The whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed the top-secret US court order allowing the NSA to collect data on millions of Americans and foreigners.
The Obama administration has come under fire for secretly obtaining the phone records of the Associated Press journalists as well as the emails and phone records of a Fox News Channel reporter.