U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended the National Security Agency's collection of phone records on the same day Google chief Eric Schmidt called it "bad public policy . . . and perhaps illegal."
Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal
that fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden has assisted in understanding what the U.S. government is doing.
Appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room"
on Monday, Feinstein said she disagreed with Schmidt.
"You take down that phone records program and you will increase the risk of an attack in this country," Feinstein told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
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The program has brought about at least 12 arrests that prevented attacks, Feinstein said, adding that Americans think terrorism is down because there has not been a major attack in the United States.
"Terrorism is not down. Worldwide, it is up," she said, citing a CNN report of a record increase in terrorist attacks. Total incidents rose 69 percent from 2011 to 2012. Fatalities rose 89 percent in that period.
"Now, we're lucky it isn't the United States," Feinstein said. "It's Africa. It's Asia. It's the Middle East."
There have been three attempts, she said, to get a bomb into the United States
that could elude airport magnetometers.
"They want to attack the United States with one of these weapons," Feinstein said. "Do we want to make it easier or harder?"
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