- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 30, 2014

A top Democratic senator says President Obama’s decision to slow down the U.S. government’s bulk collection of phone records, placing more faith in private companies, is a step in the right direction.

“This starts towards what Ben Franklin had in mind, which is making sure that we can have security without sacrificing our liberties,” Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He said that although the National Security Agency collected troves of “meta” data that does not include the content of conversations, the government had been compiling a “federal human relations database.”

“When the government has the information about who you call, when you call, they know a lot about your private life,” Mr. Wyden said.

The private companies now charged with collecting records have a track record of working with court orders, but lawmakers will be “watchdogging the way the phone companies handle this,” he added.

Meanwhile, the senator wants the U.S. intelligence community to be upfront with Congress about how far they can reach into Americans’ lives.

“Here’s what the bottom line is for me. The American people deserve straight information from the intelligence leadership,” Mr. Wyden told NBC. “If the American people don’t get it, you can bet there will be other situations like this.”

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