Eric Holder faces Hill skeptics on surveillance, leak probes

Attorney General Eric Holder stepped into his usual role as the Obama administration’s lightning rod Thursday, fielding questions from Congress about newly-disclosed surveillance of Americans’ telephone calls and about leak investigations that have pried into journalists’ phone records and e-mails.

Holder was tight-lipped about the broad phone-records monitoring program that, according to a court order leaked Wednesday, gathers data on millions of Americans’ communications. But he insisted that lawmakers have been kept fully informed.

“Members of Congress have been fully briefed as these issues — these matters have been underway,” Holder said at a Senate Appropriations committee hearing. “I’m not really comfortable in saying an awful lot more than that,” he added, citing the classified nature of the program.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) sounded a skeptical note. “This ‘fully briefed’ is something that drives us up the wall…. ‘Fully briefed’ doesn’t mean we know what’s going on,” she said, urging a classified hearing or briefing that all senators could attend.

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