Feinstein vows to kill Leahy's NSA bill

Two powerful Senate Democrats are poised for a battle over the National Security Agency's surveillance powers.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Key Republican 'convinced' Iran threats are credible Graham, Leahy request briefing on decision to yank personnel from Iraq MORE (D-Vt.) said he will push legislation to end the NSA's controversial program to collect records on all U.S. phone calls. He argued that the program invades Americans' privacy rights while doing little to thwart terrorist attacks. 

But Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Senate confirms controversial 9th Circuit pick without blue slips Graham warns of 5G security threat from China MORE (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, argued that the phone data program is critical for protecting national security.

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"I will do everything I can to prevent this program from being canceled," Feinstein said during the hearing.

She suggested that if the program had been in place in 2001, it could have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She explained that in 2001, intelligence officials had vague fears of an impeding attack but did not have enough information to do anything about it. 

"That can never be allowed to happen in the United States of America again," Feinstein said. 

She acknowledged that leaks about the extent of the NSA's surveillance activities have eroded public trust in the agency, and she said some reforms are needed. 

She is preparing her own legislation that would require more transparency about the NSA's activities but would preserve the NSA's bulk collection of phone data. 

The program collects records, such as phone numbers, call times and call durations, but not the contents of the conversations. 

But Leahy argued that proposals like Feinstein's don't go far enough to protect Americans' privacy.

"Additional transparency and oversight are important," Leahy said. "But I believe we have to do more."

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeFrustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Congress can expand paid leave and help workers save with bipartisan support Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations MORE (R-Utah) echoed Leahy's call to rein in the NSA's phone data collection.

“The Fourth Amendment’s protection against ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ is designed to prevent against precisely the kind of suspicionless fishing expeditions that the government is currently carrying out under its telephony metadata collection program," Lee said.

But Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump Chris Wallace: AG Barr 'clearly is protecting' Trump Appeals court rules Trump end of DACA was unlawful MORE (R-Ala.) appeared to side with Feinstein, arguing that people have little privacy interest in their phone records.

"The records are in the possession of the phone company. They're the phone companies' records — they're not your personal records," Sessions said.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump: Anonymous news sources are 'bulls---' Trump: 'Good chance' Dems give immigration 'win' after Pelosi called White House plan 'dead on arrival' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration MORE (R-S.C.) also expressed concern that ending the program would be a return to a "pre-9/11 mentality."