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Seeking to tamp fears, confusion, intelligence officials brief Congress on spy programs

Wednesday - 6/12/2013, 1:20am  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The entire House of Representatives has gotten a briefing from intelligence officials as part of an effort to calm outrage over National Security Agency programs that collect Americans' phone and Internet records.

The officials have been making the case that the information-gathering is necessary to protect Americans -- and does not trample on their privacy rights.

Several key lawmakers have tried to refocus the furor on the 29-year-old former intelligence contractor who is claiming responsibility for revealing the programs. House Speaker John Boehner joined others in calling Edward Snowden a "traitor."

But attempts to defend the NSA systems by a leading Republican senator who supports them is highlighting how confusingly intricate they are.

Sen. Lindsey Graham described how the NSA uses pattern analysis of millions of phone calls from the United States, even if those numbers have no known connection to terrorism. That was in conflict with administration assertions that the program has strict limits to prevent intruding on Americans' privacy. Senior officials denied Graham's description and the senator later said he misspoke.

%@AP Links

269-a-11-(Congressman Brad Sherman, D-Calif., with reporters after closed door NSA briefing)-"federal executive branch"-Congressman Brad Sherman says he was surprised by the extent of the surveillance. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:11 "federal executive branch"

270-a-12-(Congressman Brad Sherman, D-Calif., with reporters after closed door NSA briefing)-"an ongoing investigation"-Congressman Brad Sherman says the briefers didn't discuss Edward Snowden's whereabouts. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:12 "an ongoing investigation"

271-a-13-(Congressman Brad Sherman, D-Calif., with reporters after closed door NSA briefing)-"very little significance"-Congressman Brad Sherman says his experience is much of the classified material made available to congress isn't worth much. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:13 "very little significance"

272-a-08-(Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., with reporters after closed door NSA briefing)-"debate the issue"-Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger says it's time to have an open debate on the balance between security and privacy. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:08 "debate the issue"

273-a-12-(Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., with reporters after closed door NSA briefing)-"need the haystack"-Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger says there were questions raised in the closed door meeting about the need for such a large volume of information. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:12 "need the haystack"

258-a-07-(Alex Abdo, attorney, ACLU National Security Project, in AP interview)-"of innocent Americans"-ACLU attorney Alex Abdo says they understand the need to keep America safe, but the program goes too far. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:07 "of innocent Americans"

259-a-11-(Alex Abdo, attorney, ACLU National Security Project, in AP interview)-"the country safe"-ACLU attorney Alex Abdo says the government's program exceeds Congress' authority. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:11 "the country safe"

260-a-09-(Alex Abdo, attorney, ACLU National Security Project, in AP interview)-"has such value"-ACLU attorney Alex Abdo says gathering personal information, including who people speak with and what is said, invades a person's right to privacy. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:09 "has such value"

261-a-14-(Alex Abdo, attorney, ACLU National Security Project, in AP interview)-"the law allows"-ACLU attorney Alex Abdo says the provision the government is relying on in this case is supposed to be limited to picking up information that's relevant to a specific investigation. (11 Jun 2013)

<> 00:14 "the law allows"


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