On Thursday, Senate Democrats were harshly critical of the the Obama administration’s collection of private domestic and international phone records from Verizon customers.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), according to The Hill, said the operation was an “outrageous breach” of privacy.
“I have had significant concerns about the intelligence community over-collecting information about Americans’ telephone calls, emails, and other records and that is why I voted against the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act provisions in 2011 and the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act just six months ago,” Merkley said in a statement.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said the National Security Agency’s actions were “indefensible” and “unacceptable.”
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) said the program concerned him and the Obama administration owed it “to the American public to comment on what authorities it thinks it has.”
The UK’s Guardian broke the news on Wednesday that the Obama administration got a court order forcing Verizon to hand over all phone records on an “ongoing basis.” It was later revealed that the National Security Agency had actually been collecting information from Verizon for seven years, and the court order was just a renewal of that program.