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Senator calls telephone surveillance violations 'more troubling' than NSA admits

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who was one of the few lawmakers to sound alarms on government surveillance programs even before Edward Snowden's revelations, joins Andrea Mitchell for a conversation on the NSA, government record collections, and new FBI Director James Comey.

Sen. Ron Wyden says "violations" of the National Security Agency's program of bulk collection of telephone call data have been "more troubling than the government has stated."


In an interview on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell" show, Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said there were "violations of court orders" by the NSA.

The remarks by the Oregon Democrat come as U.S. intelligence officials are preparing to declassify and publicly release new documents about the so-called telephone metadata program, including two "white papers" that have been provided to Congress and a "primary order" by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing the collection, officials tell NBC News. Another document – a Justice Department legal memo submitted to the court – may also be released later this week.


Under the program, first disclosed by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA has collected millions of records of telephone calls by U.S. citizens, including the time and duration of the calls but not the content.

Last Friday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote Wyden a letter acknowledging for the first time that there have been a "number of compliance problems" under the controversial program. He said the problems have been reported to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Justice Department and congressional oversight committees. But Clapper provided no details beyond saying there were "no findings of any intentional or bad faith violations" and that they "generally involved human error or highly sophisticated technology issues."

A spokesman for Clapper did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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