Senate Intelligence chairman: NSA ruling returns US to 'pre-9/11'

Senate Intelligence chairman: NSA ruling returns US to 'pre-9/11'
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Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Biden campaign adds staff in three battleground states Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? MORE (R-N.C.) on Sunday argued that a ruling against the National Security Agency (NSA) and its collection of phone records returned American intelligence to levels not seen since before the 9/11 attacks.

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“That turns us back to pre-9/11,” he told host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week” of Thursday’s decision by a federal appeals court.

“Well, there’s no absolute,” Burr said.

“I can only take the advice of those who were involved at the time and because of the connection we couldn’t make, they suggested that if we had been able to bulk collect telephone numbers, we could have traced and connected the dot and caught al-Mihdar, who was in San Diego,” he added of 9/11 terrorist Khalid al-Mihdar.

Burr additionally said that he hoped the NSA would be able to continue the controversial intelligence program.

“Well, I do think it should continue for the simple reason that it’s very effective at keeping America safe,” he said.

“And in addition to that, we’ve had absolutely no incident of anybody’s privacy being intruded upon,” Burr said.

The North Carolina lawmaker cited the May 3 shooting at a “Draw Muhammad” event in Garland, Texas as proof of the active hostility terrorists had for the U.S.

“Well, let me just say that the men and women in the intelligence agency and through law enforcement are 24/7 on this,” he said.

“The intent is there,” Burr said.

“We can’t stay at this alert level 24/7, 365 days a year, but it’s important that we respond to any potential uptick in terrorism,” he added of the Pentagon’s decision on Friday to raise the threat level at all U.S. military installations.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren on Friday said that a claim by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that it inspired the Garland attack was behind the “heightened threat environment” at the bases.

This was because it had claimed it inspired last weekend’s attack in Garland, he added.

“We’ve seen what happened in Texas, we’ve seen other social media and Internet-based discussions and threats, and so we have detected a general increase in the overall environment that’s caused us to want to do this,” Warren said.

“There is no known threat to any specific place,” he added.