DENVER (AP) – The U.S. government needs to re-examine how far it can legally go in its search for terrorists, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall said following media accounts of the Obama administration’s collection of telephone data and Internet communications.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday, the member of the U.S. Senate’s Intelligence Committee called for a reassessment of the USA Patriot Act. Udall said he has seen no evidence the programs are worth the sacrifice of civil liberties.
“It’s unclear to me that we’ve developed any intelligence through the metadata program that’s led to the disruption of plots that we couldn’t have developed through other data and other intelligence,” Udall said.
One program collects hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records. The second gathers audio, video, email, photographic and Internet search usage of foreign nationals overseas, and probably some Americans in the process, who use major providers such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and Yahoo.
The Democrat from Boulder County has raised the issue of rights and security for some time. The war on terrorism should not come at the expense of Americans’ rights, he said.
“I come from this at the start acknowledging terrorism is a real threat, that we have to protect the American people,” Udall said on the Sunday morning news show. “At the same time I also believe the Bill of Rights is one of the most powerful tools, or even weapons, we have in this fight.”
The snooping programs were first reported in a series of articles published by The Guardian newspaper. On Sunday it identified Edward Snowden, 29, an American who works as contract employee at the National Security Agency, as the source of the disclosures.
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