Tags: chambliss | nsa | emails | durbin | ABC

Chambliss: NSA Ended Monitoring Americans' Emails

By Amy Woods and Greg Richter   |   Sunday, 28 Jul 2013 11:06 AM

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss denied accusations by The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald that the National Security Agency monitors emails and said phone-call surveillance does not take place without a court order.

"No emails are monitored, no. They used to be, but that stopped two or three years ago," said Chambliss, the Republican vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

As for claims phone calls are monitored unilaterally by the agency, Chambliss defended the program.

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"There may have been some abuse, but if it was, it was pure accidental," he said.

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan also defended the work done by the NSA's surveillance program following last week's close vote in the House seeking to defund it.

"We have found how to do this and protect your privacy," said Rogers, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that detailed data is not collected on phone calls, only numbers with no names or addresses attached. Only after a foreign terrorist is identified is the information turned over to the FBI for investigation, he said.

There have been "zero privacy violations, 54 violent terrorist attacks thwarted," since the program began, Rogers said. "That’s a pretty good record."

The House defeated a bill that would have defunded the program on Wednesday 217-205, with several libertarian Republicans joining the effort to pass the bill.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who joined Chambliss on the ABC talk show, said the capability of the NSA to tap into Americans' privacy "goes way too far."

"I really believe that we should limit this metadata collection," the Senate majority whip said. "The notion that we're going to collect all of the phone records of everyone living in an area code on the off chance someone in that area code may be a suspect at a later time goes way too far."

Chambliss disagreed. "Let me tell you, there is no other program in the intelligence community that has as much oversight as this one, because people deserve to have their privacy protected," he said. "We've got to reach the right kind of balance … between protecting Americans and giving 100-percent protection on the privacy side."

Chambliss said Congress has "a responsibility as policymakers" to make sure both the intelligence and law-enforcement communities have "the tools with which to provide the kind of protection that we've had since 9/11."

Asked whether former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden, who sparked the debate when he began releasing information on the program in June, would ever voluntarily return to the United States to face charges, Rogers admitted that Snowden may be "too far gone."

Snowden initially fled to Hong Kong, and currently is stuck in a Moscow airport because the United States revoked his passport. He is seeking asylum in several countries, including Russia and some South American nations.

"I would like him back and bring back what he has stolen from the people of the United States," Rogers said.

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said she would like to see Russia hand Snowden over to the United States.

"I think if they think about it hard, what Snowden did, it's not in their best interests," Feinstein said. Russian President Vladimir "Putin knows this. He's run the KGB. He knows what intelligence is comprised of."

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Feinstein said she does not think Obama should boycott the upcoming G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, over the Snowden issue. Instead, she said, President Barack Obama should sit down with Putin and make the case for extradition.

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