Feinstein blasts critics of NSA phone program

 

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Sunday defended a National Security Agency program that collects data about Americans’ phone calls, saying it is not a surveillance program.

“It’s not a surveillance program, it’s a data-collection program,” she said while appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

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Feinstein also commented a new book from journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first wrote about classified documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In No Place to Hide, released last week, Greenwald said the U.S. government places surveillance tools in technology equipment to be sold abroad, an accusation the U.S. government often lobs at the Chinese government.

That program “does not sound familiar,” Feinstein said Sunday.

She pushed back on criticism of the intelligence community, saying its programs are necessary to protect the country from terrorists.

“I know they will come after us if they can, I see the intelligence,” she said.

“Terror is not down in the world; it is up.”

Still, Feinstein said she would be open to privacy-enhancing modifications to the NSA programs.

Earlier this month, the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees passed a compromise version of the USA Freedom Act, which would end sweeping surveillance programs. That bill is expected to come to the floor as soon as this week.

“We are looking at those bills,” Feinstein said.

“It may be that we can find a way to make some improvements that may solve everyone’s problem at this point.”