The Obama administration tried on Tuesday to slow Congressional lawmakers’ opposition to the National Security Agency’s spying operations in the United States.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have proposed amendment to a military appropriations bill that would stop the financing for NSA phone data collection program in the country, the New York Times reports.
NSA director General Keith B. Alexander met with lawmakers on Tuesday to lobby against the bill, sponsored by Republicans.
Recent revelations that the NSA is collecting phone call data of every American made the Congress to take action to curb the spy agency’s secret operations.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked last month that the government is snooping phone calls and emails of American citizens and other nationals.
Later on Tuesday, the White House also issued a statement criticizing the House’s effort “to hastily dismantle” the call tracking program, and calling on lawmakers to vote down the legislation.
In response, Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, a critic of the government’s spying operations, blasted national security officials, saying they have “actively” misled the American public about domestic surveillance.
He said that the NSA’s authority to launch surveillance programs should be curbed.
“As we have seen in recent days, the intelligence leadership is determined to hold on to this authority,” Mr. Wyden said, as reported by the Times. “Merging the ability to conduct surveillance that reveals every aspect of a person’s life with the ability to conjure up the legal authority to execute that surveillance, and finally, removing any accountable judicial oversight, creates the opportunity for unprecedented influence over our system of government.”
Years before Snowden’s leaks, Wyden had warned that the US government was secretly interpreting its powers under the Patriot Act in an alarming way.
Wyden has is now warning that the government’s theory of its power under the Patriot Act to collect records about people from third parties is “essentially limitless.”
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