James R. Clapper, director of National Intelligence, issued a rare public statement confirming the existence of a classified phone program but said it did not involve the surveillance of American citizens. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee, asserted that the government needed the information to catch those who might become a terrorist.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the ranking member and vice chairman of the intelligence committee, described the program as “meritorious” because it allows government to collect information about “bad guys.”
On Friday, President Barack Obama defended the effort as well. Obama said that he and his aides had concluded that “modest encroachments on privacy” were “worth us doing” to protect the country.