The Guardian reports: The Obama administration is refusing to say whether it will seek to renew a court order that permits the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records on millions of Verizon customers when it expires at the end of this week.
Officials declined to discuss what action they intend to take about the order at the center of the current surveillance scandal, which formally expires at 5pm Friday.
The looming expiration of the order, issued by the secretive Fisa court, provides an early test of Barack Obama’s claim to welcome debate over “how to strike this balance” between liberty and security. Beyond the question of the phone records collection, the court order authorizing it is a state secret.
On Thursday, the administration would not answer a question first posed by the Guardian six days ago about its intentions to continue, modify or discontinue the Verizon bulk-collection order. The White House referred queries to the Justice Department. “We have no announcement at this time,” said Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon. The NSA and office of the Director of National Intelligence did not respond to questions. [Continue reading…]