House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Thursday laid public concern over the National Security Agency's collection of phone records from millions of Verizon customers at the feet of President Barack Obama, declining to explain to reporters why such a program, approved by Congress years ago, is necessary.
"I trust the president will explain to the American people why the administration considers this a critical tool in protecting our nation from threat of terrorist attack," Boehner said at a weekly press briefing.
"Why isn't the burden also on you to explain why this act was passed?" a reporter pressed.
"The tools were given to the administration, and it's the administration's responsibility to explain how these tools are used," Boehner added. "And I'm hopeful we'll see these answers soon."
The Ohio Republican also would not say whether he was briefed or aware of the program.
Earlier Thursday, the top two senators on the Intelligence Committee defended the NSA's collection of Americans’ phone records.
“This is nothing particularly new," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). "This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.”
“It’s called protecting America," added Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).