The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

October 30, 2013

Lawmakers: US spy programs may have gone too far

WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with anger over revelations about U.S. spying at home and abroad, members of Congress suggested Tuesday that programs the Obama administration says are needed to combat terrorism may have gone too far.

The chairman of the House intelligence committee said it might help to disclose more about National Security Agency operations but barring NSA from collecting millions of Americans' phone records would scrap an important tool.

"We can't ask the FBI to find terrorists plotting an attack and then not provide them with the information they need," said Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. He spoke at the start of a hearing where top intelligence officials were testifying, including National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander.

A bipartisan plan introduced Tuesday would end the NSA's massive sweep of phone records, allowing the government to seek only records related to ongoing terror investigations. Critics both at home and abroad have derided the program as intrusive and a violation of privacy rights.

The proposal comes as President Barack Obama and key lawmakers are saying it's time to look closely at surveillance programs that have angered many Americans and now are drawing complaints from world leaders because of reports that their cellphone conversations were monitored.

The White House is considering ending eavesdropping on friendly foreign leaders, a senior administration official said.

The administration tried to tamp down damage Tuesday from the months-long spying scandal — including the most recent disclosure that the National Security Agency had monitored the cellphone conversations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A final decision about listening in on allies has not been made, the senior official said.

The White House also faces complaints at home about the NSA collecting millions of Americans' phone records and sweeping up Internet traffic and email. The Obama administration defends those programs as important in the fight against terrorism.

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