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White House Will Not Confirm or Deny Phone Record Collection

The White House says it cannot confirm or deny whether the government secretly collected the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans.

The alleged database program was first reported in the USA Today newspaper Thursday.

White House spokesman Tony Snow Friday repeated what President Bush said Thursday, that no laws are being broken, the privacy of citizens is being fiercely guarded, and the key lawmakers have been briefed.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns about the reported program. Some have said the disclosure of the alleged program could complicate the confirmation of General Michael Hayden, the president's choice to run the Central Intelligence Agency.

Hayden headed the National Security Agency when the collection of phone records would have started. The general, meeting with lawmakers in Washington today, again said that everything the agency does is lawful.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Republican, said he will call telephone company officials to testify about the constitutional issues raised by the alleged program.

In its article Thursday, USA Today noted that under Section 222 of the U.S. Communications Act, first passed in 1934, telephone companies are prohibited from giving out information regarding their customers' calling habits.

It also said one telecommunications company, Qwest, declined to comply with the N.S.A. request for the data over legal concerns.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.