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US Lawmakers to Debate Proposed Intelligence Reforms

by Michael Bowman December 22, 2013

A U.S. lawmaker says the data collection practices of the National Security Agency will be the focus of a congressional hearing next month.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Patrick Leahy, says the already embattled U.S. National Security Agency will be subjected to further scrutiny when lawmakers return to Washington in January. Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press program, Leahy said the committee will review a presidential panel's recommendations for overhauling bulk data collection that has provoked outcries at home and abroad.

"The first public exposure to what the panel has said is going to be [examined] before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a couple weeks," said Leahy.

Last week, President Barack Obama said he is reviewing 46 recommendations put forth by the panel to better protect private communications and personal information while satisfying U.S. intelligence needs. Leahy says the saga of fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden makes it clear to all that the agency must be reformed.

"They did such a poor job, the NSA, that a sub-contractor was able to steal all their secrets," said Leahy.

Also appearing on NBC was Republican Congressman Peter King, who warned against impeding America's intelligence apparatus.

"I do not think everybody has to know what a spy agency is doing. By their nature, a spy agency is kept secret. This is all, to me, a debate generated by the hysteria caused by Edward Snowden. What do we reign in? A system that works? Let us not unilaterally surrender," said King.

King added that, had the NSA possessed in 2001 the capabilities it has today, the September 11 terrorist attacks might have been prevented. Senator Leahy said the United States needs an effective spy agency, but one that is accountable to the American public.

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