Sen. Deb Fischer says the country must be accountable and as transparent as possible while using surveillance to thwart terrorist attacks.
National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander told a House committee that the agency would rather take a beating from the public and the media than give up its program that he insists protects America from terrorist attacks.
Legislation has been introduced in Congress to prevent the NSA from collecting American phone records in bulk.
The NSA has claimed it has the authority to collect such data under provisions of the Patriot Act, passed by Congress in wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
European leaders as well others have complained to the Obama Administration when news reports indicated the NSA had tapped the phones of political leaders in other countries. Alexander has denied the accusation.
Fischer wants to hear more from the NSA.
“These activities are coming to light now. It’s somewhat easy to say that all countries do this, but we always need to make sure it’s accountable,” Fischer says.
Fischer says she doesn’t believe reports that the NSA has gathered data on European leaders have damaged America’s relationships with its allies.
“I don’t think so. I don’t think so,” Fischer says. “As I said, most countries try to learn what they can about the stance and the views of other countries and what is said publically isn’t always what is relayed privately.”
The Guardian first revealed the data collection program conducted by the NSA from material leaked by Edward Snowden, who worked as a contractor for the agency.
Alexander told the House committee that though the agency collects “billions” of records, it examines only as many as 300 that it finds credible in its work to prevent terrorist attacks. He claims the agency has blocked as many as 54 terrorist plots since 9/11.