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NSA's massive new data center in Utah

Rick Bowmer / AP

An aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, on Thursday. The government is secretly collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order, according to the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Obama administration is defending the National Security Agency's need to collect such records, but critics are calling it a huge over-reach.

Rick Bowmer / AP

Ground lever view of Utah's NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, Friday, June 7, 2013. President Barack Obama vigorously defended sweeping secret surveillance into America's phone records and foreigners' Internet use, declaring "we have to make choices as a society." It was revealed late Wednesday that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone records of hundreds of millions of U.S. phone customers.

Rick Bowmer / AP

An aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah.

Matthew DeLuca of NBC News reports that President Obama defended what he called long-standing Internet and phone monitoring programs as valuable tools to fight terrorism:

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Obama said. “That’s not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at the numbers and durations of calls. They’re not looking at names and they’re not looking at content, but sifting through this so-called meta data, they may identify potential leads with respect to people that might engage in terrorism.”

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Check out the Wikipedia article on the huge new data center, which claims the facility will store data on the scale of trillions of terabytes. According to Wired magazine, the center will consume 200 megawatts of electricity.