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Policy: Law

White House downplays Rand Paul lawsuit, says NSA practices 'lawful'

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Politics,White House,National Security,Rand Paul,PennAve,NSA,Surveillance,Meghashyam Mali,Jay Carney,Law,Technology

The White House on Wednesday downplayed a lawsuit led by Sen. Rand Paul, who is suing President Obama and top intelligence officials, saying that all three branches of government had found the National Security Agency surveillance practices “lawful.”

The Kentucky Republican announced plans on Wednesday to sue Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and FBI Director James Comey, among others, alleging that the NSA's collection of phone and Internet metadata violated Fourth Amendment protections.

Rand said he believed his suit would go to the Supreme Court and be successful.

At issue is the NSA’s bulk metadata collection, authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. But the White House said that provision had already been upheld by the courts.

“We believe that the program as it exists is lawful. We're not alone,” said Carney.

“It has been found to be lawful by multiple courts, and it receives oversight from all three branches of government, including the Congress,” he added.

Carney cited Obama’s own review of NSA spying and his announced reforms to better balance national security and privacy interests.

He said the president had found that the NSA “followed protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people.”

“They are not abusing authorities in order to listen to your phone calls or read your emails,” said Carney.

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