WASHINGTON — Leaders of a Senate panel that oversees U.S. intelligence issues said Thursday it has approved a plan to scale back how many American telephone records the National Security Agency can sweep up. But critics of U.S. surveillance programs and privacy rights experts said the bill does little, if anything, to end the daily collection of millions of records that has spurred widespread demands for reform.
Legislation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was approved by an 11-4 vote, would increase congressional and judicial oversight of intelligence activities. It also would create 10-year prison sentences for people who access the classified material without authorization, according to a statement released by committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the panel's top Republican.
Just how far it would scale back the bulk collection of Americans' telephone records was unclear. Only certain people would have access to the phone data, according to the bill. It also would bar the NSA from obtaining the content of the phone calls.
Lawmakers to address concerns in Europe: U.S. lawmakers will head to Europe to help address concerns abroad about alleged U.S. spying and convince the Europeans of the need to continue joint anti-terrorism efforts with the U.S., the chairman of a Senate subcommittee on European affairs said Thursday. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he is concerned about European threats to stop participating in anti-terrorist organizations.