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NSA Spying Tactics Are Illegal, Watchdog Group Says

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An independent government board formed to protect Americans' privacy says the National Security Agency has been overstepping its bounds with its mass collection of phone records.

It's the first time this privacy board, recommended by the 9/11 Commission, has called the government on the carpet.  The board alleges the NSA programs have been set up without "adequate legal basis," subverting the letter of the law.

President Obama has already announced reforms, but this report will impact the debate in Congress over language in the Patriot Act that expires next year.

The five-member board wasn't unanimous; the two former Bush administration lawyers on the panel dissented from the view that the NSA program has been illegal.

As it stands, intelligence analysts can still search phone records, with a court order, but the government is looking for ways to store the phone data outside of government control.

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