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Senate chairman calls for end to bulk phone record surveillance

Sept. 24, 2013 at 4:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday the oversight of U.S. surveillance programs needs to be updated.

Leahy, D-Vt., told an audience at Georgetown University he would lead an effort to create new legislation to place new limits on the National Security Agency, which has been under fire for its collection of data from telephone systems and the Internet.

"I am convinced that the system set up in the 1970s to regulate the surveillance capabilities of our intelligence community is no longer working," Leahy said. "We have to re-calibrate."

Leahy said specifically he wanted to bring a close to the NSA's collection of huge numbers of telephone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Washington and New York.

"In my view -- and I have discussed this with the White House -- the Section 215 bulk collection of Americans' phone records must end," Leahy said. "The government has not made its case that this is an effective counterterrorism tool, especially in light of the intrusion on Americans' privacy rights."

The Hill said Leahy's committee scheduled a closed-door hearing on the NSA for Wednesday and would hold a public hearing next week. The Senate Intelligence Committee called a public hearing on surveillance for Thursday.

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