NSA officials had a "secret internal debate" about the phone surveillance program years before Edward Snowden leaked information about it, The Associated Press reports.
Some officials reportedly objected to collecting phone records and tried to stop the NSA program in 2009. The officials wanted to have agency employees send requests to phone companies when necessary.
But the Justice Department disagreed, saying they would have to change the law, which is intended to stop terrorists. "Key members of Congress had no interest in modifying a law that the public — and many lawmakers — did not realize was being used to justify bulk phone collection," officials told AP.
"It's possible that the entire Snowden leak might have been diverted" if the NSA got rid of the program in 2009 or 2011, intelligence expert Steven Aftergood told AP.