Saturday, July 30, 2011

US cannot say how many had communications watched

(AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Like its predecessor, the Obama administration says it cannot count how many people in the U.S. have had their telephone calls and emails monitored by government agents in national security investigations under federal surveillance law.

The national intelligence office said in a letter this week to two Senate Democrats that it was "not reasonably possible to identify the number."

The senators, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, worry that the government may be monitoring communications of law-abiding citizens with inadequate justification.

"We're not asking these questions to embarrass the administration or make the intelligence community's job more difficult," Wyden said in a statement Thursday. "Congress needs to know if the laws it writes are being interpreted and implemented as intended before it is asked to extend them, and failing to assure the public that government agencies aren't violating the rights of law-abiding Americans erodes public confidence and makes it harder for intelligence agencies to do their jobs."

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