National Security

NSA collected more than 151 million phone records in 2016


The National Security Agency (NSA) collected more than 151 million phone records last year despite a 2015 measure designed to curb the agency’s ability to do so, according to a report released Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The NSA collected the records even though it had only obtained warrants through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for 42 terrorism suspects in 2016.

The 151 million records do not represent the actual number of people who had their phone data collected because it includes multiple calls made to the same phone numbers. 

{mosads}Tuesday’s report on data collection is the first since Congress passed the USA Freedom Act in 2015, which sought to limit the NSA’s phone records collections to individuals suspected of having ties to terrorism.

Congress is set to consider reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the NSA to collect information on foreign persons located abroad. But critics of the law argue that it can be used to surveil U.S. citizens without a warrant.

President Trump has accused the Obama administration of wiretapping his presidential campaign last year, and he has also said that former national security adviser Susan Rice may have committed a crime by requesting the identities of Trump aides caught up in surveillance of foreign targets. 

Rice has denied any wrongdoing, saying in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria over the weekend that she never did anything “untoward” with the intelligence she received.

So far, congressional investigators have not seen evidence supporting Trump’s wiretapping claim.  

Tags Donald Trump National Security Agency Office of Director of National Intelligence Susan Rice
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