Officials with the Obama administration haven't accurately described the NSA programs to Congress, said Representative Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican. "We feel that we have been blatantly deceived on what some of these programs have done," he said.
Congress should pass the USA Freedom Act, an NSA reform bill that has several Judiciary Committee sponsors, said David Cole, a constitutional law professor at the Georgetown University Law School. The bill would allow the DOJ and NSA to collect U.S. phone records only when they are connected to a suspected terrorist.
"That is how the administration sold what they were asking Congress to do" when it asked for new authority in the Patriot Act to collect information relevant to a terrorism investigation, he said. "I don't think a single member of Congress thought, 'what we mean by that is there are no limits on the business records that you can get.'"
But Steven Bradbury, a former DOJ official, defended the phone records program. Some NSA reform proposals "would expose the nation to vulnerability by substantially weakening or even destroying outright the effectiveness" of the phone records program, he said.
Proposals to add a civil liberties lawyer at the surveillance court would slow down the collection-approval process there, and "would, I fear, prove dangerously unworkable in the event of the next catastrophic attack on the United States," he added.
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