McConnell defends support of Patriot Act, NSA program

By Elizabeth Barber BOSTON (Reuters) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday defended his support for a measure in the USA Patriot Act that has anchored a National Security Agency program to collect Americans’ phone data.  Speaking at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston, McConnell called the measure “an important tool to prevent the next terrorist attack,” and pledged to continue fighting for it against recent challenges.  The Patriot Act’s counter-terrorism measure, Section 215, is set to expire on June 1, and McConnell is seeking to extend it through 2020. The act is at the center of a bitter controversy, with a federal appeals court ruling this month that Section 215 does not allow the NSA to collect Americans’ phone data in bulk.

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