Nightly News   |  June 06, 2013

Phone call records, collected by government, prompt outrage

The enormous collection of U.S. telephones calls and their durations have been housed in National Security Agency computers for the past seven years.  NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> good even, i'm ann curry in for brian tonight. as new details are breaking about widespread government surveillance was americans. it turns out every time you pick up the phone , the government has known what number you you were dialing. a secret surveillance program is collecting the telephone records of every single one of us. and late today we learned of a separate and what could be a far more explosive tapping into e-mails and computer traffic. andrea, good evening.

>> and today's leak was only the tip of the iceberg . nbc news has learned that the government has been collecting records on every telephone call made in america, not only foreign calls. that is causing lots of outrage on twitter and by members of congress. it's an enormous collection of data over the last seven years. logs of telephone calls and their durations. not names and not recordingsless unless the government has a specific threat and ask permission and then go back and check a number.

>> within the last few years, this program was used to stop a program -- excuse me -- stop a terrorist attack in the united states . we know that. it's important.

>> reporter: it all became public because of a leak in "the guardian" a british pam. telling verizon to turn over telephone records. officials confirm it was a three dash month renewal.

>> i'm a remember advisen customer. it doesn't botdser me one bit for the national security administration to have my phone number . because what they're trying to do is find out what tore rift groups we know about and.

>> reporter: in the hot seat again, eric holder . they want details.

>> i would be more than glad to come back in a -- in an appropriate setting to discuss the issues that you have raised.

>> the correct answer would be say, no we stayed within our reign and i'm assuring you we did not spy on members of the congress.

>> and i trust the government will explain why the american's citizens consider this a --

>> we have debated this several times. more than a dozen times, in the intelligence committee . it has been the subject of extended flor debate and votes.

>> reporter: the entire senate was hastily called to an intelligence meeting. with when the director of national intelligence denied skuch a program existed.

>> does the nsa collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of americans?

>> no, sir.

>> all of this created a fewerer today.

>> our civil ligts are too important of an issue to just push off aside.

>> al gore tweeted, privacy must be a priority. is it just me or is it extremely outrageous. and can you hear me now.

>> tonight james clapper is explaining he did not intentionally mislead senator widen in march. indicating he was referring to emails not phone records.

>> thank you so much for your reporting on this.