Senate Judiciary chairman calls new hearing on NSA, wants ‘straight answers’

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Friday that he plans to hold another hearing on the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, saying he's concerned that "we are still not getting straight answers."

Leahy's announcement about the additional hearing comes a day after an internal NSA audit published by The Washington Post revealed that the spy agency had repeatedly broken privacy rules or overstepped its authority. 

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"The American people rely on the intelligence community to provide forthright and complete information so that Congress and the courts can properly conduct oversight. I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA," Leahy said in a statement.

"I plan to hold another hearing on these matters in the Judiciary Committee and will continue to demand honest and forthright answers from the intelligence community."

The Judiciary panel held a hearing in July that examined the oversight of the surveillance programs and featured testimony from top intelligence officials.

The NSA audit, which The Post obtained from former government contractor Edward Snowden, found that the spy agency had procured private communications thousands of times without proper authorization. Most of the incidents were unintended and involved unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign targets in the United States, the paper said.

The Post found that these incidents happened because of typographical errors, but the more serious ones included unauthorized access to intercepted communications and use of automated systems that did not have privacy safeguards built into them.

Additionally, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees the NSA surveillance programs, was not informed about a new collection method until after it was use for many months, according to The Post.

Leahy has been critical of the surveillance programs and introduced a bill that aims to rein in the NSA's phone data collection program.

"Using advanced surveillance technologies in secret demands close oversight and appropriate checks and balances, and the American people deserve no less than that," Leahy said.