In a bid to sustain national security, Senator Republicans support the NSA’s Phone Data Collection Rights
Stating their case loud and clear, Senator Republicans have pledged their support to the National Security Agency (NSA) for its right to collect and store domestic telephone records through a new bill. It may be recalled that the NSA was in the limelight for all the wrong reasons in 2013 when Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor released documentary evidence that the NSA was actively collecting telephone records to be used against terrorism.
Although President Obama has committed to limit the NSA’s phone data collection program, the NSA still continues its operations in more or less the same way. A recent report published by the Director of National Intelligence revealed that last year, phone records of 227 prominent people were pulled up; this is against 248 in 2013.
The NSA is empowered to collect phone data of civilians under the provisions of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is due to expire on 1 June 2015, motivating the Senator Republicans to campaign for the continuation of the function of the NSA in the interest of national security. Last year, there was an unsuccessful attempt to limit the NSA’S power to collect private phone data.
According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.S.C.), he could accept some minor changes, “but my No. 1 goal of the Patriot Act is to make sure we don’t have another 9/11…. I will not vote for Patriot Act that is compromised,” he said.
In support of the NSA’s phone data collection program, intelligence officials claim that access to this data has helped thwart at least a dozen terrorist plots, although critics say that there was only a single case where a cab driver was caught for transferring funds to a terrorist cell in Somalia.
Although the NSA does not directly pull out transcripts of telephone calls, privacy advocates feel that even possession of dates, times and numbers could result in the opening of an “intrusive window” compromising the privacy of American citizens.