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Eavesdropping Allegations Prompt Senate Investigation

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV on Thursday promised an investigation into allegations of wiretapping of American citizens abroad, prompted by a story from ABC News.

On Thursday morning, ABC reported that hundreds of U.S. citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency center in Fort Gordon, Ga.

“These are extremely disturbing allegations,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “The Senate Intelligence Committee is examining this now and we have requested all relevant information from the Bush administration.”

Rockefeller was a key negotiator in passing an update of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act earlier this year.

“Any time there is an allegation regarding abuse of the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, it is a very serious matter,” he said. “The committee will take whatever action is necessary to ensure those rules are followed and any violations are addressed.”

According to the ABC report, NSA operators routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.

On Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters she had not yet seen the report and would withhold comment until she viewed the story.