McCaul: Balance Needed on NSA Procedures

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Sunday, 09 Jun 2013 01:33 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said Sunday he had concerns about the National Security Agency keeping Americans' telephone records, but at the same time, noted it was an "approved and reviewed" program that has had benefits.

"The program itself has stopped terrorist attacks in the past," the Texas Republican said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," noting that the government's monitoring of cell phone records disrupted a 2009 plot to bomb New York City's subways.

But McCaul questioned if Americans can "trust this administration with your phone records" in light of the numerous scandals that have come out in recent weeks, including the IRS' targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department's seizure of Associated Press and Fox News reporters' phone records and emails.

"I think that it's the warehousing of all the phone records is what gives people the main concern," said McCaul.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the revelations about the phone records point to why he voted against the Patriot Act when it was first proposed after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I voted against the Patriot Act because I was afraid of the unintended consequences," said Cummings, who appeared on CBS show with McCaul. "We have to be cognisant of the threat to our people, but at the same time, we have to make sure we guard our Bill of Rights and the Constitution."

However, Cummings said he understands a balance needs to be stricken but said, "I think we have gone too far. If this becomes the normal now, what becomes the normal tomorrow?"

Meanwhile, McCaul said the NSA leaks that led to the news stories in The Guardian and The Washington Post disclosing details of the surveillance program are a "very serious breach," that calls for a criminal investigation.

"The fact of the matter is, someone leaked this information, putting very sensitive data out there on the Internet," McCaul said.

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