Senator says Congress has access to NSA details

Aug. 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The vice chairman on the U.S. Senate intelligence Committee denied members of Congress were being blocked from seeing details of intelligence programs.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said a report Sunday in the British newspaper The Guardian did not reflect the level of access his fellow members had to documents on the controversial National Security Agency metadata collections.

Chambliss said on NBC's "Meet the Press" there were procedures for confidential reviews of NSA documents and if some members felt they were being stonewalled "it is their own fault because all they have to do is ask."

"All members of Congress have the ability to come in and review most of the documents that are involved in these programs," he said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the major criticism of the NSA data collection was the breadth of material gathered. "Does the government need all this information on everybody in this country?" he asked. "That's the first preliminary question that we're going to address."

Chambliss said the wide range was unavoidable due to the elusive nature of al-Qaida and its ilk. "If you could tell us who the bad guys are, I assure you, we'd limit it to gathering on just the bad guys," he said. "But we don't know."

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