NSA Phone Tracking

Austin

nsa phone tracking

WASHINGTON (AP) — Years before Edward Snowden sparked a public outcry with the disclosure that the National Security Agency had been secretly collecting American telephone records, some NSA executives voiced strong objections to the program, current and former intelligence officials say. The program exceeded the agency's mandate to focus on foreign spying and would do little to stop terror plots, the executives argued.

The 2009 dissent, led by a senior NSA official and embraced by others at the agency, prompted the Obama administration to consider, but ultimately abandon, a plan to stop gathering the records.

The secret internal debate has not been previously reported. The Senate on Tuesday rejected an administration proposal that would have curbed the program and left the records in the hands of telephone companies rather than the government. That would be an arrangement similar to the one the administration quietly rejected in 2009.

nsa will stop

To address their concerns, the former senior official and other NSA dissenters in 2009 came up with a plan that tracks closely with the Obama proposal that the Senate failed to advance on Tuesday. The officials wanted the NSA to stop collecting the records, and instead fashion a system for the agency to quickly send queries to the telephone companies as needed, letting the companies store the records as they are required to do under telecommunications rules.

In a departure from the bill that failed Tuesday, however, they wanted to require the companies to provide the metadata in a standardized manner, to allow speedy processing and analysis in cases of an imminent terror plot. The lack of such a provision was among the reasons many Republicans and former intelligence officials said they opposed the 2014 legislation.