WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Sunday expressed skepticism over whether the government's vast intelligence-gathering program is entirely necessary to thwart terrorist plots.
"It's unclear to me that we've developed any intelligence through the [phone call] metadata program that's led to the disruption of plots that we couldn't obtain through other programs," Udall said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Udall, who in recent days has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration's surveillance methods, conceded that a different government program known as PRISM -- which monitors the Internet activity of foreigners -- has paid some dividends. Still, he emphasized his criticism of the government's phone record collection program.
"Maybe Americans think this is OK, but I think the line has been drawn too much toward we're going to invade your privacy rather than we're going to protect your privacy," he said.
Debate over the intelligence-gathering efforts had been set off by The Guardian's recent report that the Obama administration ordered Verizon to turn over millions of phone records to the National Security Agency. The move, congressional leaders say, was part of a broader strategy to prevent terrorist attacks.
No names were attached to the records sent to the NSA and the contents of the conversations were never disclosed. But that's little comfort to Udall, who said the government can extrapolate a lot from "when you call, where you call."
"I expect the government to protect my privacy, and it looks like that isn't what's happening," said Udall.