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Current, former officials back US data trawling in wake of new surveillance revelations

Current and former top U.S. officials are supporting the government's collection of phone and Internet data following new revelations about the secret surveillance programs aimed at disrupting terrorist plots.

In interviews on Sunday news programs, guests ranging from White House chief of staff Denis McDonough to former Vice President Dick Cheney and former CIA and National Security Agency head Michael Hayden defended the government's reliance on data collection from Americans.

The latest comments came as the Washington Post reports that the government runs four major data collection programs — two aimed at phone and Internet metadata and two more targeting contents of phone and Web communication.

The metadata pulled in by the secret programs does not contain communication contents but includes phone and Internet contacts and location information.