A Wisconsin congressman says the NSA collection of the phone records of American citizens is an invasion of privacy – and not always effective. Republican Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, on the PBS News Hour, said the National Security Agency has “grabbed everybody’s phone records” to try to figure out who might be involved in a terrorist strike. “I can say that two teenagers talking about who they’re taking to the prom is not going to lead to somebody who wants to blow up Chicago,” he said.
While the intelligence agency defends the use of such surveillance, Sensenbrenner said it hasn’t always worked out – as in the case of the Boston Marathon bombers. “When the Russians told us they were bad guys, they weren’t able to track down who they were zeroing in on before the Boston Marathon bombing,” he said. “There has to be a balance between privacy and security.”
Sensenbrenner said the NSA screens so many phone calls “it makes the haystack so big that they can’t find the needle in it.” He’s introduced a bill that would end the dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records, and the measure already has some 70 sponsors. A similar Senate measure is being offered by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy.