King Critical of Watchdog Group's Call to End NSA Surveillance

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 01:56 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The privacy watchdog group that suggested scrapping the National Security Agency's mass data collection program was off base in their assessment, Rep. Peter King said on Fox News Thursday.

"This privacy board, I think they've gone beyond their jurisdiction," the New York Republican said. "They said it violates the statute. I don't see how that becomes their jurisdiction to decide a statute. That's for the courts."

Story continues below video.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent government agency, is expected to release its report Thursday on NSA surveillance policies. It reportedly says the bulk collection of personal phone and email data by the NSA has yielded only minimal benefits and should end.

King, the former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, noted in his criticism of the board that NSA spying policies have been ruled constitutional by "38 court decisions and 17 federal judges." He also noted that the administrations of both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush viewed the program as "essential."

Without it, King said, he doesn't know how the government will be able to acquire the necessary information that could be used to head off terrorist plots. He does, however, believe the program can be fine-tuned by holding collected information for three years instead of five and by the addition of an advisory board.

"There's always room for improvement and for refinement," he said. But he added, "I think we have to maintain the guts of the program."

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