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AP Exclusive: NSA officials objected to collecting US records, tried to curb program in 2009

FILE - In this June 6, 2013 file photo, a sign stands outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. Years before Edward Snowden sparked a public outcry with the disclosure that the NSA had been secretly collecting American telephone records, some NSA executives voiced strong objections to the program, intelligence officials say, complaining that it exceeded the agency’s mandate to focus on foreign spying and would do little to stop terror plots.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

FILE - In this June 6, 2013 file photo, a sign stands outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. Years before Edward Snowden sparked a public outcry with the disclosure that the NSA had been secretly collecting American telephone records, some NSA executives voiced strong objections to the program, intelligence officials say, complaining that it exceeded the agency’s mandate to focus on foreign spying and would do little to stop terror plots.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)  (The Associated Press)

Intelligence officials say that years before Edward Snowden sparked a public outcry with his disclosure that the National Security Agency had been secretly collecting American telephone records, some NSA executives voiced strong objections to the program. They said the program exceeded the agency's mandate to focus on foreign spying and would do little to stop terror plots.

The executives' 2009 dissent prompted the Obama administration to consider but abandon a plan to stop gathering the records.

The secret internal debate has not been previously reported. The Senate on Tuesday failed to pass a proposal by the administration that would have curbed the program and left the records in the hands of telephone companies. That's an arrangement similar to the one the government quietly rejected in 2009.