By David Ingram
WASHINGTON, June 6 U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder said on Thursday that members of Congress were fully
briefed on the intelligence-gathering program that included the
daily collection of telephone records from Verizon
Holder, the chief U.S. law enforcement official, said it
would not be appropriate for him to say anything more in a
public forum about the program. Britain's Guardian newspaper
published on Wednesday a secret court order related to the
collection of records of millions of Verizon customers.
Holder spoke to senators during a previously scheduled
hearing on the Justice Department's budget.
Earlier in the day, the Obama administration defended its
collection of a massive amount of telephone records as part of
U.S. counterterrorism efforts to protect Americans from attacks.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, who questioned
Holder about the program, said he was concerned that spy
agencies might have obtained the phone records of Congress and
the U.S. Supreme Court, even if by accident.
"When government bureaucrats are sloppy, they usually are
really sloppy," Kirk said.
Holder responded that he could not get into specifics in
public, but added, "There has been no intention to do anything
of that nature - that is, to spy on members of Congress, to spy
on members of the Supreme Court."
The program appears to have involved the records of millions
of Americans, re-igniting a debate over privacy rights.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican,
defended the program at the hearing, calling it essential to
preventing attacks on Americans.
"I hope the American people appreciate that we're at war,
because I sure do," Graham said.