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Originally published Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 9:28 AM

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Spy chief: Americans 'not wittingly' monitored

The top U.S. intelligence chief says the National Security Agency does "not wittingly" collect terror information on U.S. citizens in America - but has left open the possibility for it happening unintentionally.

Associated Press

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WASHINGTON —

The top U.S. intelligence chief says the National Security Agency does "not wittingly" collect terror information on U.S. citizens in America - but has left open the possibility for it happening unintentionally.

Under pointed questioning at a Senate hearing Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper acknowledged there are cases where the spy agency may inadvertently pick up information about Americans when it is monitoring Internet traffic and phone calls overseas.

Government investigators generally are not authorized to eavesdrop on Americans on domestic soil without a court warrant.

It's a sensitive topic because the Bush administration authorized the NSA to bypass courts for several years after 9/11 and eavesdrop on electronic communications believed to be connected to al-Qaida. That program ended in 2007.

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