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NSA’s Domestic Surveillance to Get Extra Scrutiny: Leahy

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold another hearing to investigate domestic surveillance, Chairman Patrick J. Leahy announced Friday after a leaked audit revealed that the National Security Agency violated privacy rules protecting American citizens’ private communications nearly 2,800 times in a one-year period.

“The American people rely on the intelligence community to provide forthright and complete information so that Congress and the courts can properly conduct oversight,” the Vermont Democrat said in a statement. “I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA.”

Leahy added: “I … will continue to demand honest and forthright answers from the intelligence community. Using advanced surveillance technologies in secret demands close oversight and appropriate checks and balances, and the American people deserve no less than that.”

Congressional hearings on this issue have not always been straightforward. In an open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that the NSA wasn’t collecting “any type of data at all on millions of Americans.”

Wyden and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., later went after Clapper not just for lying to Congress on this issue, but for failing to justify why such collection practices have been used.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the FISA Amendments Act reauthorization and also the Patriot Act. In his statement, Leahy highlighted an amendment he offered last year to the FISA bill that would have mandated an inspector general audit and a shorter expiration date.