[link to m.usatoday.com
National Security Agency surveillance programs came under more scrutiny Tuesday as the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit and a prominent senator and Internet giant Google called on the Obama administration to disclose more information.
In its lawsuit, the ACLU said an NSA program that harvests phone calls violates the rights of all Americans.
"The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy," said Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU's deputy legal director.
Meanwhile, Google sought permission to disclose more details about another contested NSA program, one that allows the government to collect online information from non-U.S. citizens.
And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters she has asked Gen. Keith Alexander — the head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command — to declassify more information about its phone and Internet surveillance programs.
The goal is "so that we can talk about them, because I think they're really helpful," she said.
The Guardian and Washington Post disclosed these programs last week, based on leaks from a former NSA contract employee.
Edward Snowden, who is under investigation by the Justice Department for disclosure of classified information, fled to Hong Kong before announcing Sunday he was the source of the leaks. The consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton issued a statement Tuesday confirming that Snowden had been fired from his $122,000-a-year job "for violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy."
President Obama a