The National Security Agency’s sweeping authority to collect phone-record data expired Sunday, despite evidence that such programs helped European officials track down the perpetrators of the recent Paris suicide bombing attacks and prevented other attacks.
North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that investigators in France and Belgium found a cellphone number, then were able to see other numbers to which it had contacted, thwarting another attack and leading to at least a dozen arrests.
“I'm not sure that we know the full extent of what we've learned to this point, but any time you can take electronics and use those selectors, it's beneficial to the world's intelligence community,” the Republican lawmaker said. “And the United States made a real mistake when they eliminated this program.”
The Paris attacks two weeks ago killed 130 people, with the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, claiming responsibility.The NSA had the authority through the post-9/11 Patriot Act. But revelations in 2013 by NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of the program resulted in public outcry and calls for Washington to rein in the program.