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Emerging from an early evening closed-door briefing with officials from the National Security Agency, the Justice Department and the FBI, some members of the House of Representatives said they had more questions than answers about the surveillance programs that sweep up records from phone and Internet accounts belonging to millions of Americans.
The House briefing came hours after eight U.S. senators – six Democrats and two Republicans – introduced legislation that would require the U.S. attorney general to make public secret decisions of the court that grants permission for collection of such records. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has rejected only 11 such applications among the more than 30,000 cases it’s considered since it was founded in 1979.
Anger was mounting in Congress on Tuesday night as politicians, briefed for the first time after revelations about the government's surveillance dragnet, vowed to rein in a system that one said amounted to "spying on Americans
Intelligence chiefs and FBI officials had hoped that the closed-door briefing with a full meeting of the House of Representatives would help reassure members about the widespread collection of US phone records revealed by the Guardian.
But senior figures from both parties emerged from the meeting alarmed at the extent of a surveillance program that many claimed never to have heard of until whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked a series of top-secret documents.