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The United States defended its controls on mass surveillance on Friday before a UN watchdog body amid a sweeping review of Washington's record on civil and political rights. The US government has faced a cascade of scandals over online and telephone snooping around the globe by the US National Security Agency (NSA) since fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden went public in 2013. During a session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, experts from the 18-member panel repeatedly quizzed Washington's delegation about the scale and scope of spying. Bruce Swartz, deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division at the US Department of Justice, underlined that the intelligence programmes in the spotlight were "lawful under the law of the United States".