Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that she is not averse to holding hearings that deal with the phone and Internet surveillance programs that have been uncovered recently. She said, “I’m open to doing a hearing every month, if that’s necessary.” But as a public defender of the programs, she was quick to note, “Here’s the rub: the instances where this has produced good — has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that’s what’s so hard about this.”
In order to defend the program, Feinstein mentioned two declassified instances where electronic surveillance data was implemented to follow terrorism suspects, only one of which was successful. The surveillance was successful in the case of Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant who was prevented from using backpacks full of explosives in the New York subway, but unsuccessful when used against David C. Headley, an American who investigated targets in Mumbai, India, where more than 160 people were murdered in a terrorist attack.
Barack Obama had said on Friday that he was open to discussing the relative merits of security and privacy. On Sunday, various senators chimed in with their own opinions of the government’s surveillance; John McCain straddled the fence, allowing that he was not troubled at all by the surveillance, as the threat of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa was enough cause to justify surveillance but also asserting that Congressional and executive review of the programs was “entirely appropriate.”

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