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The National Security Agency is reportedly keeping track of the telephone records of millions of American Verizon customers.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is defending the government’s secret seizure of millions of domestic telephone records from Verizon, saying the data collection program “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States.”

A senior administration official released a statement Thursday after the British newspaper The Guardian first reported the secret operation. The paper posted on its website a classified court order that requires the telecommunications company to turn over daily records with the length, location and time of individual phone calls, as well as phone numbers.

The official did not confirm the existence of the order, which is marked “Top Secret.” It was issued in late April by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court that meets in Washington, and allowed the government to collect the bulk data until July 19. It’s unclear if the 90-day order was a renewal of a standing request. READ MORE

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