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FBI Director Mueller Defends Metadata Collection

Says ‘about a dozen’ attacks disrupted

Robert Mueller / AP
• June 19, 2013 12:50 pm

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FBI Director Robert Mueller testified to the merits of the NSA data collection programs before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning.

After a series of high profile leaks of classified NSA programs concerning the collection of telephone metadata and the Internet monitoring program known as PRISM, the FBI has come under close scrutiny regarding the necessity of both programs and if their use is in the best interest of the American people.

Chairman Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) decried the current breadth of the program, saying that "many Americans no longer trust their government" and that they have many reasons not to.

Leahy asked Mueller to specify the necessity of the collection of telephone metadata, stating that he had yet to receive a straight answer if the metadata alone contributed to thwarting a terrorist plot.

Mueller replied by stating that "about a dozen" were directly thwarted by the collection of metadata.

Mueller went on to say that communication between terrorists is their "weakest link" and is the easiest to exploit. Mueller was adamant that if metadata collection ceased it would greatly hinder the FBI's ability to "connect the dots."

Answering a question regarding increasing the transparency of intelligence programs, Mueller stated that with more transparency comes the loss of certain capabilities.

Mueller's testimony will most likely be his last before the committee. With no official announcement from the Obama administration regarding his replacement, he only alluded to the fact that he had spoken to the president about it but could not disclose anything publicly.