Top Obama administration officials, appearing before a House committee to defend controversial government surveillance programs, ran into tough questions Wednesday from lawmakers of both parties, who expressed deep skepticism about the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and other communications…
The administration believes the programs “achieve the right balance” between protecting Americans’ safety and their privacy, said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
But in grilling Cole and other officials about the programs, Democrats and Republicans on the committee expressed concern that the collection of information is too broad and intrusive.
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the panel, argued that collecting telephone metadata under Section 215 of the Patriot Act “can amount to a Fourth Amendment violation” before any use is made of it. “You’ve already violated the law as far as I am concerned,” he told the witnesses.