Responding to the news that the National Security Agency is collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers, Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday that he assumes the intelligence agency also is gathering information from “all the other carriers as well.”
Mr. Flake, Arizona Republican, said he was surprised by the report in the British newspaper The Guardian that the FBI had been granted a top-secret court order that requires Verizon to turn over on an “ongoing, daily basis” information on all telephone calls in the system to the NSA, including those calls made in the U.S., as well as those between the U.S. and other countries.
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“It just seems strange to me that they would need that much information and start with that broad of a base,” Mr. Flake said during an appearance on MSNBC. “I’d like to have some questions answered.”
The freshman senator said he has learned during the course of his congressional career that presidents will use whatever tools are in their arsenal to track terrorism and that it is Congress’ duty to make sure there is a balance “between civil liberties and the need to have that information.”
“If they can come now and show the Congress the need for this and why they need to collect this so-called metadata, then perhaps it is OK,” he said. “It is not just Verizon. I think we can assume it is all the other carriers as well.”