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US official won't say whether Obama phone data is collected

Published on Feb 5, 2014 6:32 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A United States (US) official acknowledged on Tuesday that the National Security Agency (NSA) likely scoops up data on congressional phone communications, but stopped short of saying whether such action extends to calls made by President Barack Obama.

The tense exchange occurred during a hearing on the status of the administration's reforms of the secret, bulk data collection program exposed last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, hesitated when asked whether the controversial NSA program that gathers the numbers, call times and lengths of virtually every US phone call extended to communications by members of Congress and executive branch officials.

Congressman Darrell Issa, a House Republicans known for his staunch criticism of the Obama White House, asked specifically whether the program was scooping up information from "202-225-and four digits" - the phone exchange for House of Representatives offices.

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