Attorney General Eric Holder stepped into his usual role as the Obama administrationâ€™s lightning rod Thursday, fielding questions from Congress about newly-disclosed surveillance of Americansâ€™ telephone calls and about leak investigations that have pried into journalistsâ€™ phone records and e-mails.
Holder was tight-lipped about the broad phone-records monitoring program that, according to a court order leaked Wednesday, gathers data on millions of Americansâ€™ communications. But he insisted that lawmakers have been kept fully informed.
â€œMembers of Congress have been fully briefed as these issues â€” these matters have been underway,â€ Holder said at a Senate Appropriations committee hearing. â€œIâ€™m not really comfortable in saying an awful lot more than that,â€ he added, citing the classified nature of the program.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) sounded a skeptical note. â€œThis â€˜fully briefedâ€™ is something that drives us up the wallâ€¦. â€˜Fully briefedâ€™ doesnâ€™t mean we know whatâ€™s going on,â€ she said, urging a classified hearing or briefing that all senators could attend.
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