NSA surveillance: anger mounts in Congress at ‘spying on Americans’
After a closed-door briefing of the House of Representatives, lawmakers call for a review of the Patriot Act
Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman in Washington and Alan Travis in London
Tuesday 11 June 2013
Anger was mounting in Congress on Tuesday night as politicians, briefed for the first time after revelations about the government’s surveillance dragnet, vowed to rein in a system that one said amounted to “spying on Americans”.
Intelligence chiefs and FBI officials had hoped that the closed-door briefing with a full meeting of the House of Representatives would help reassure members about the widespread collection of US phone records revealed by the Guardian.
But senior figures from both parties emerged from the meeting alarmed at the extent of a surveillance program that many claimed never to have heard of until whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked a series of top-secret documents.
The congressional fury came at the end of a day of fast-moving developments.
• In a lawsuit filed in New York, the American Civil Liberties Union accused the US government of a process that was “akin to snatching every American’s address book”.
• On Capitol Hill, a group of US senators introduced a bill aimed at forcing the US federal government to disclose the opinions of a secretive surveillance court that determines the scope of the eavesdropping on Americans’ phone records and internet communications.