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Iran Press TV

NSA considered ending phone spying program: Report

Iran Press TV

Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:10AM

The US National Security Agency (NSA) spying program incurred considerable costs in terms of money and civil liberties, current and former intelligence officials say.

The NSA program aimed at collecting and saving American calling records also did little if anything to stop terrorism, according to the Associated Press citing the officials.

Thus, the spying agency considered ending its secret program several months before whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed documents exposing the practice, according to the AP report.

Some NSA officials were ready to abandon the bulk collection in 2013 even though they knew they would lose the ability to search a database of US calling records, said the unnamed intelligence officials.

The proposal to abandon the spying program was reviewed among top NSA officials but had not yet reached the desk of General Keith Alexander, the then NSA director, the officials stated.

The internal NSA debate, which has not been reported previously, could have an effect on lawmakers in Congress as they decide whether to renew or modify the phone records collection program when the law authorizing it expires in June.

After the program was disclosed in 2013 by Snowden, civil liberties advocates condemned it, saying the records could give intelligence agencies a road map to Americans' private activities.

Some NSA critics have blamed the agency for failing to reveal the internal concerns about the program.

'This is consistent with our experience with the intelligence community,' said Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. 'Even when we have classified briefings, it's like a game of 20 questions and we can't get to the bottom of anything.'

In June 2013, Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked classified intelligence documents showing the extent of the agency's spying activities.

According to the documents, the agency had been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans as well as foreign nationals and political leaders around the world.

AHT/AT



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