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Secret FISA Court Extends NSA Phone Spying

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper (Susan Walsh/AP)The secretive U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has approved a request made by the National Security Agency (NSA) to continue its dragnet collection of records on all U.S. phone calls.

In what it claimed to be move for transparency, the office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the announcement late Friday.

Clapper "has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority," the office's statement read.

This disclosure is "consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program," it continued.

However, as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)—who is among a handful of U.S. lawmakers currently drafting respective bills that claim to prohibit the NSA from conducting bulk data collection in the future—made clear that Clapper's nod towards "transparency" was superficial at face value.

“While I appreciate the recent efforts by the Court and the administration to be more transparent, it is clear that transparency alone is not enough," said Leahy.

"There is growing bipartisan consensus that the law itself needs to be changed in order to restrict the ability of the government to collect the phone records of millions of law-abiding Americans,” Leahy added.

Clapper, sparked outrage when it was revealed earlier this year that he "outright lied" to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee when said the NSA does not collect data on U.S. citizens, shortly after the first NSA revelations had been published.

The NSA's mass collection of private phone data was among the first revelations exposed to the public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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