BY: Ellison Barber
June 9, 2013 4:45 pm

Lawmakers began the public debate Sunday on the NSA surveillance programs, staking out positions on whether the data monitoring programs are an overreach of power or a necessary protection, or somewhere in between.

Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) decried the program as an “extraordinary invasion of privacy” and expressed an interest in taking the case to the Supreme Court, during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

“They’re looking at a billion phone calls a day, is what I read in the press, and that doesn’t sound to me like a modest invasion of privacy,” Paul said. “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking all the internet providers and all of the phone companies, ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit.”

Since the surveillance programs—the telephone-monitoring program and PRISM—came to the public’s attention, lawmakers have engaged in a contentious debate about the necessity for and ethics of the programs. Sunday, lawmakers repeatedly emphasized the need for “a balance” between civil liberties and national security, but disagreed on whether or not the phone program constitutes a betrayal of that balance.
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