Anger swells after NSA phone records court order revelations
Senior politicians reveal that US counter-terrorism efforts have swept up personal data from American citizens for years
NSA taps in to internet giants’ systems to mine user data, secret files reveal
Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman in Washington
The Guardian, Thursday 6 June 2013
A White House spokesman said that laws governing such orders ‘are something that have been in place for a number of years now’. Photograph: Rex Features
The scale of America’s surveillance state was laid bare on Thursday as senior politicians revealed that the US counter-terrorism effort had swept up swaths of personal data from the phone calls of millions of citizens for years.
After the revelation by the Guardian of a sweeping secret court order that authorised the FBI to seize all call records from a subsidiary of Verizon, the Obama administration sought to defuse mounting anger over what critics described as the broadest surveillance ruling ever issued.
A White House spokesman said that laws governing such orders “are something that have been in place for a number of years now” and were vital for protecting national security. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the Verizon court order had been in place for seven years. “People want the homeland kept safe,” Feinstein said.
But as the implications of the blanket approval for obtaining phone data reverberated around Washington and beyond, anger grew among other politicians.