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White House disagrees with panel that urged an end to phone data spying

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is disagreeing with a government task force that is urging President Barack Obama to shut down the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone data.

The sharply-divided task force also wants the government to get rid of its massive inventory of the calling records of millions of Americans.

The recommendation from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board goes well beyond Obama's own decision to curtail the program. It also is more sweeping than the recommendation of another panel that wants to limit phone surveillance to the ones approved by court orders.

The report from the oversight board includes strong dissents from two of the board's five members -- former Bush administration national security lawyers. They recommend that the government retain its broad authority to collect phone records, and say the program is too valuable to shut down.

Reacting to the oversight board report, a White House spokeswoman says the administration "believes the program is lawful." She says Obama believes there can be changes that will "give the American people greater confidence in it."

The Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee says the report will add to what he calls "the growing chorus calling for an end" to the program. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is co-sponsoring a bill that would shut down the phone records collection.