The National Security Agency surveillance programs allow even low-level analysts to search the private emails and phone calls of Americans, according to The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who first broke the story.
In a weekend interview, Greenwald told ABC News that NSA employees could search its database and then listen to the calls or read the emails of everything the NSA has stored.
"The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they've collected over the last several years," Greenwald said.
"These programs are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things," he continued. "It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you've entered."
"It also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future," he said.
Such revelations continue to outrage members of the U.S. Senate.
"The NSA is literally collecting every phone record of every American every day," Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., told CBS News. "And, look, the content of those phone calls is not available, but I think knowing when I call somebody from where I call somebody and for how long I call somebody is a violation of your privacy."
"There are apps that you can get on your smart phone or your smart tablet or your computer that can take that phone data and give a pretty good impression of what you do during your daily activities," he said. "To me, that is a violation of Americans' privacy."
NSA officials are scheduled to testify before the Senate Wednesday.
Greenwald has issued them a challenge. "I defy them to deny that these programs work exactly as I just said."