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Thursday, June 6, 2013

White House Defends NSA Verizon Surveillance

Aerial view of the National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (nsa.gov)

Aerial view of the National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (nsa.gov)

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are knocking down speculation that the secret collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records is tied to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper published a court order from a U.S. federal judge instructing Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give customers’ phone records to the National Security Agency (NSA).

The order is marked “top secret” and dated 10 days after the Boston Marathon bombings, but senators say the order was actually a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice.

The information shared by Verizon includes numbers dialed, where calls were made and how long calls lasted. It does not include the content of calls.

The White House is defending the practice as “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats,” while not confirming the Guardian report.

It’s long been known that the NSA was gathering huge amounts of information under the Bush-era Patriot Act. But this is the first time it’s become known that the Obama administration was doing it.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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