Documents obtained by the newspaper from former government contractor Edward Snowden describe how analysts can obtain Internet data — including the content of email messages, Facebook chats, private messages and search histories — by filling out a simple on-screen form.
Rogers and Ruppersberger called the report "irresponsibly misleading."
The lawmakers, who receive regular classified briefings on the surveillance activities, said that XKeyscore does not target people in the United States and is not used for "indiscriminating monitoring of the Internet."
"Rather, the program is simply a tool used by our intelligence analysts to better understand foreign intelligence, including terrorist targets overseas," Rogers and Ruppersberger said. "Finally, the story also once again ignores the legal constraints, comprehensive training, and layers of oversight built into all NSA programs. Every search on the program by an NSA analyst is fully auditable to ensure it is done within the law."
But Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said the latest report shows that the "government's surveillance activities are far more extensive and intrusive than previously understood, and they underscore that the surveillance laws are in desperate need of reform."
He said the documents also call into question the truth of statements that intelligence officials have made in recent months about the programs.