Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers seriously questioned government officials in a second major public hearing on the National Security Agency’s bulk spying on Wednesday, when the NSA acknowledged its ability to analyze phone records and online behavior goes far beyond what it had previously disclosed. On “Democracy Now!” on Thursday, Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who broke the story, called the debate “encouraging.”

The capabilities officials acknowledged included the ability to look at data belonging to communication users who are three times removed from a suspected terrorist.

Greenwald summarized the current battle lines between NSA defenders and opponents:

“The only people at this point who are defending the NSA are the hardcore neocons in the Republican Party, people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain and the like, who see national security as the only value that matters, and the really hardcore Obama loyalists and Democrats, who defend anything the Obama administration does and have become the loudest proponents, ironically, of the massive secret surveillance state and of the government’s power to listen in. So those two groups—Republican neocons, Democratic Party loyalists—are at this point the only real defenders the NSA has left. And I think you’re seeing a real breakdown of partisan and ideological divisions in support of what Mr. Snowden did, of the reporting that we’ve done, and the need for there to be transparency and light shined on what the government has been doing to our privacy completely in the dark.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.‘Democracy Now!’:

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