WASHINGTON — A Republican senator is defending the practice of collecting millions of telephone records in the ongoing war on terror.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that he had no problem with the ongoing practice, saying it was imperative in the war on terror.

“If we don’t do it, we’re crazy,” Graham said.

Later, at a hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Graham said he is a Verizon customer and it doesn’t bother him at all if his number was part of the NSA program. He said the goal of the program is to track connections between known terrorist groups and any U.S. phone numbers.

“If you’re not getting a call from a terrorist organization, you’ve got nothing to worry about,” he said.

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner is calling on President Barack Obama to explain why the data-collecting tools used by the National Security Agency are necessary.

Boehner also woyld not say whether he was briefed or knew about the program.

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Intelligence committee said the ongoing NSA search of telephone records thwarted an attempted terrorist attack in the United States in the last few years.

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan defended the telephone records collection at a Capitol Hill news conference Thursday. He said the information culled from the records enabled U.S. authorities to stop a “significant case.”

He declined to provide additional details, but said he was in touch with U.S. officials about providing more information.

He said the NSA search is for business records and is constantly being reviewed. He said nothing is done without court approval.

NEW YORK — Former employees of the National Security Agency said the publishing of a court order asking Verizon to hand over all its phone calling records for a three-month period opens a new window on an operation that has been in place for years and involves all major U.S. phone companies.

“NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all these companies, not just one” William Binney told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. “They’re just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens.”

Binney, who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, left the agency after the attacks of 9/11 because he objected to the expansion of its surveillance of U.S. citizens.

WASHINGTON — The federal judge who approved the Obama administration’s secret collection of telephone records of millions of Verizon customers in the U.S. made waves two years ago with a sweeping ruling invalidating President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The White House called that 2011 ruling by Judge Roger Vinson a plain case of judicial “overreaching” — the word that critics now are using to describe the collection of records he ordered.

The administration calls Vinson’s April 25 order on collecting phone records a critical tool to fight security threats.

Vinson made the ruling as a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, about a week before he stepped down from the court at the end of his seven-year term.

Vinson is 73 and serves as a judge in Florida.

Wire reports