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Senators lean toward review of NSA spying program

June 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- A U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee member said Sunday the public needs to be better informed on the scope of government phone and Internet records access.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said while the National Security Agency's vast monitoring program had been vetted by the legal system, the political uproar will linger unless the public is provided with more details on how the intelligence was collected and used.

"I'm calling for a wholesome debate all over the country," Udall said on CNN's "State of the Union. "Maybe Americans think this is all OK, but I think the line has been drawn too far toward 'we're going to invade your privacy versus we're going to respect your privacy.'"

Udall said there was no escaping the chance communications of American citizens would be caught up improperly in the massive electronic sweeps, and the value of the data collection would be a moot point if it offends the voters.

"I think the ultimate check, the ultimate balance is the American public understanding to what extent their personal phone calls are being collected, even if only in this category of metadata," Udall said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., agreed public review is needed because the NSA monitoring was critical to uncovering terrorist plots, particularly at a time when the Middle East was particularly tumultuous.

McCain told CNN the review would probably best be limited to the Intelligence Committee for security reasons, but all of Congress might have to be involved in order to completely clear the air.

"I think it's entirely appropriate that we have congressional review, that we have executive review, and we take the case to the American people to some degree as so (they know) what we are doing," he said.

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