Tags: feinstein | surveillance | intelligence | committee

Feinstein Agrees to Hold Hearings on Surveillance Program

By    |   Sunday, 09 Jun 2013 11:24 AM

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed on Sunday to hold hearings that examine President Barack Obama’s secret surveillance program on millions of Americans, but signaled most proceedings would be closed to the public.

“I’m open to doing a hearing every month if that’s necessary,” Feinstein told ABC’s “This Week” program.

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“Now here’s the rub,” Feinstein added. “The instances where this has disrupted plots and prevented terrorist attacks is all classified, that’s what is so hard about this.”

Feinstein suggested at least one hearing could be public to address two terrorist cases already known that officials credit the secret program with aiding investigators – the subway plot on New York City and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Key Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are demanding hearings on the surveillance program that was revealed last week by a British newspaper. The Guardian reported that metadata including telephone numbers, locations and times of calls placed by millions of Verizon customers was being collected and stored under a court order obtained by the Obama administration.

Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, serves on the intelligence panel with Feinstein and told “This Week” that Americans would be surprised at the extent to which they are under surveillance by the Obama administration.

“The law has been interpreted in a secret way,” Udall said.

“I think that if the government is gathering (metadata), that the American people ought to know it,” Udall said. “We ought to have a discussion about it and frankly I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security Agency is collecting.”

Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, declined to say whether hearings will be held on his panel, but pushed strongly for prosecution of whoever leaked the information to the Guardian.

“It was just enough information to literally be dangerous,” Rogers told “This Week.”

“Taking a very sensitive classified program that targets foreign persons on foreign lands and putting just enough out there to be dangerous, is dangerous to us, is dangerous for our national security and violates the oath which that person took,” Rogers said.

“I absolutely think they should be prosecuted,” Rogers said.

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Feinstein agreed, but both lawmakers clarified they did not think the reporter should be charged with committing a crime for publishing the information.

Obama has defended the secret seizure of records as necessary to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed on Sunday to hold hearings that examine President Barack Obama s secret surveillance program on millions of Americans, but signaled most proceedings would be closed...
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2013-24-09
Sunday, 09 Jun 2013 11:24 AM
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