Senate Judiciary plans NSA hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that it will hold its first oversight hearing on the National Security Agency following the introduction of committee Chairman Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) bill to curb the agency's power.

Leahy invited Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to testify at the Nov. 20 hearing titled, “Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities.” 

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The committee held hearings in July and October following leaks about the scope of the NSA's surveillance programs. 

Leahy and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the original author of the USA Patriot Act, introduced the USA Freedom Act last week to rein in NSA spying. 

The bill would end the agency's controversial program to collect records on all U.S. phone calls, tighten oversight and require more disclosure about the NSA's surveillance activities. 

“The intelligence community faces a trust deficit, and I am particularly concerned that the NSA has strayed and overreached beyond its core missions,” Leahy said in a statement Wednesday. “One important step toward rebuilding that trust would be for the NSA to spend less of its time collecting data on innocent Americans, and more on keeping our nation’s secrets safe and holding its own accountable.”

The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will also hold a hearing on Nov. 13 to study legislation from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) that would require more NSA disclosure.

That subcommittee hearing will feature testimony from Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.); Robert Litt, general counsel for the director of national intelligence; Brad Wiegmann, deputy assistant attorney general; Richard Salgado from Google; and Kevin Bankston with the Center for Democracy and Technology.