WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is defending the National Security Agency's need to collect telephone records of U.S. citizens.
Britain's Guardian newspaper is reporting that the NSA has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order. A senior administration official would not confirm the report but did call such information "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats."
The Guarding reports the order was granted by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 and is good until July 19. It requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.
The administration official says the order as reported by the newspaper would "not allow the government to listen in on anyone's calls."
The administration official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to publicly discuss classified matters.
The Associated Press could not authenticate the order because documents from the court are classified.