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Posts tagged ‘United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’

King: Terror Group Ansar al-Shariah ‘New Face of al-Qaida’.

The terror group Ansar al-Shariah, suspected of carrying out the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, is the “new face of al-Qaida,” Rep. Peter King asserted Monday.

“The fact is, this is the new face of al-Qaida. We have to face up to that. That is what a number of us have been saying for several years now,” King, the former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Fox News.

Story continues below video.

The New York Republican agreed with the Obama administration that the core al-Qaida group founded by Osama bin Laden has been “weakened,” but insisted that it has “metastasized” and “morphed” into “more of a threat” than when the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001.

He added that if the U.S. State Department does not recognize al-Shariah or certain other terrorist groups as affiliates at al-Qaida, “then that is a very, very real policy issue that has to be discussed.”

King made the comments in response to a New York Times report over the weekend claiming the Benghazi attack was not carried out by a al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group, but was prompted in part by an American-made anti-Muslim video, as initially claimed by the White House. The Times report put the blame for the attack directly on extremist militia leaders in Libya who had helped to overthrow dictator Muammar Gaddafi with the aid of both the U.S. and NATO.

King, like many other Republicans who have blasted the Times report since its release on Saturday, also suggested the article could serve to “defuse” what many believe could be a Republican issue against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if she decides to run for president in 2016.

Republicans blame Clinton for failing to beef up security at the Benghazi compound, despite repeated warnings to the State Department that it was vulnerable to attack.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

Mike Rogers: Snowden ‘Ran to Russia,’ Deserves No Amnesty.

Image: Mike Rogers: Snowden 'Ran to Russia,' Deserves No Amnesty

By Greg Richter

Two members of the House Intelligence Committee from opposing parties agreed Sunday that NSA leaker Edward Snowden should have stayed in the United States rather than fleeing to Russia.

Snowden addressed the British public via television on Christmas Day and talked to The Washington Post on Dec. 23. He said he is doing the work the government has failed to do.

“I’m not moved by the message at all,” Schiff said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“And I think there’s a real irony here that he’s giving this message from one of the foremost Big Brother states in the world, where he is living without any privacy, because there is no right or expectation of privacy in Russia whatsoever,” he said.

Schiff admitted that Snowden “has kindled an important public debate,” but he said it came from a “mixture of motivations.” Snowden should have stayed in the United States and been willing to stand up for his beliefs, he said.

Likewise, Rogers, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” said Snowden “is somebody who had a troubled employment history, who ran to China and Russia.”

Snowden himself swiped at both parties in his Washington Post interview, in which he said he was “elected” to his post to “improve” the National Security Agency by Sen. Dianne Feinstein “when she asked softball questions” in committee hearings and by Rogers “when he kept these programs secret.”

Rogers argued that the programs that keep metadata on Americans’ phone and email communications were instituted after 9/11 because it was found that they could have prevented the worst act of terrorism on American soil. Members of relevant committees are briefed on everything, he argued.

Information is “well-overseen, locked away in a vault,” Rogers said, and there is oversight over who gets access.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sen. Feinstein, Rep. Rogers: Terror Threat Greater Than Before Sept 11.

The U.S. is in greater danger of a terrorist attack than it was prior to September 11 and has less ability to prevent such aggression by Islamist radicals, key congressional intelligence leaders said Sunday.

“I think terror is up worldwide, the statistics indicate that,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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“The fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up. There are new bombs, very big bombs. Trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnetometers. The bomb maker is still alive. There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there,” Feinstein said.

“I think there is a real displaced aggression in this very fundamentalist jihadist Islamic community. That is that the West is responsible for everything that goes wrong and that the only thing that’s going to solve this is Islamic sharia law and the concept of the caliphate,” Feinstein said.

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee agreed, and said terrorists are now focusing on smaller events, making it more difficult for the intelligence community to detect plots against American targets.

“The threat level has never been more diverse than it is today and that’s one of the bigger concerns that we have, and why we both would agree that the threat is higher today and we are probably less safe. The more efforts they try, the more perfect you have to be to stop something. That’s a huge challenge,” Rogers told CNN.

Citing the recent disclosures about the interworking of U.S. intelligence operations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, Rogers said it has changed the way al-Qaida operates and communicates, making it even more difficult to detect an attack before it becomes operational.

“We’re fighting amongst ourselves in this country about the role of the intelligence community. That is having an impact on our ability to stop what is a growing number of threats. And so we’ve got to shake ourselves out of this pretty soon and understand that our intelligence services are not the bad guys,” Rogers said.

The bleak assessment comes as Congress debates whether to curtail the reach of the intelligence community’s ability to spy on Americans, as well as terrorist threats overseas.

The Snowden leaks revealed that the NS A has been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans, as well as the email content of messages going overseas.

The revelation prompted rare bipartisan consensus in Congress to limit NSA activities or to require regular reports to Congress on its activities.

Feinstein is pushing legislation to protect NSA practices but require more congressional reporting.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Audrey Hudson

Rep. Rogers: Congress Not Told About Secret Iran Talks.

Image: Rep. Rogers: Congress Not Told About Secret Iran Talks

By Greg Richter

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers normally receives briefings on national secrets.

But Rogers, R-Mich., says he knew nothing of the six months of secret talks the United States had with Iran before the weekend agreement to ease sanctions on Iran. To his knowledge, neither did his Senate counterpart.

“It was concerning that they didn’t believe it was important enough to do this, and that just raises questions about what did they pre-arrange prior to the P5+1,” Rogers said Monday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” 

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The P5+1 group, consisting of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany, negotiated a six-month temporary easing of sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s pausing its efforts to enrich uranium – which the West and Iran’s Arab neighbors think it intends to use to build a nuclear weapons arsenal.

But the secret talks aren’t all that worry Rogers. In addition to the $4.2 billion Iran is getting as part of the deal, it also gets gold and other precious metals. Those, Rogers said, can be used to get around the sanctions by bartering – something Iran already has done while sanctions were in effect.

The issue isn’t being played up enough, he told Blitzer.

“Not talking about that worries me,” Rogers said. “We ought to know what the facts are of the deal.”

Rogers is among those in Washington saying the United States gave Iran everything it wanted in exchange for very little.

“That’s why the Arab League thinks this is a bad deal, Israel thinks it a bad deal, a bipartisan group in Congress thinks this is a bad deal,” he said, “which is apparently why the secret meetings to talk about it.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Peter King: Europe Should be Grateful for US Spying.

Image: Peter King: Europe Should be Grateful for US Spying

Europeans should be grateful for US spying operations because they keep them safe, US lawmakers said Sunday, urging allies to improve their own intelligence and oversight efforts.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers called “disingenuous” foreign governments’ outrage over the National Security Agency’s large dragnet over communications of several dozen world leaders and ordinary citizens.

And he blamed the news media for getting the story wrong.

“I think the bigger news story here would be… if the United States intelligence services weren’t trying to collect information that would protect US interests both (at) home and abroad,” the Republican told CNN.

The NSA denied German press reports that President Barack Obama was personally informed since 2010 that US spies were tapping on top ally Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

And National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said US intelligence gathering was simply “of the type gathered by all nations.”

Dick Cheney, the former US vice president who wielded vast influence on intelligence matters during the George W. Bush administration‘s “war on terror,” said US spying on allies was nothing new.

“It’s something that we have been involved in a long time,” he told ABC television.

The spying row prompted European leaders late last week to demand a new deal with Washington on intelligence gathering that would maintain an essential alliance while keeping the fight against terrorism on track.

But Rep. Peter King, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, said Obama should “stop apologizing” about the NSA’s phone-tapping scandal, claiming the programs had saved “thousands” of lives.

“The president should stop apologizing and stop being defensive,” he told NBC.

“The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives, not just in the United States but in France, Germany and throughout Europe.”

King also suggested the French had conducted similar operations themselves and should therefore tamp down their criticism.

“The French is someone to talk. They carried out operations against the United States, the government and industry,” he said.

Rogers said that French citizens would celebrate US phone intercepts in their country if they realized how the practice keeps them safe.

“If the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks. It’s a good thing. it keeps the French safe. It keeps the US safe. It keeps our European allies safe,” he added.

“This whole notion that we’re going to go after each other on what is really legitimate protection of nation-state interest, I think is disingenuous.”

The congressman called for improved intelligence oversight in European capitals, contrasting allies’ approaches to the United States, where he stressed the government must first obtain approval from a special court to monitor communications.

“They need to have a better oversight structure in Europe,” Rogers said. “I think they would be enlightened to find out what their intelligence services may or may not be doing.”

The Republican lawmaker said the news media was “100 percent wrong” in suggesting that the NSA monitored up to 70 million French telephone records in a single month.

“They’re seeing three or four pieces of a 1,000-piece puzzle and wanted to come to a conclusion,” he added, insisting the records collection was a counterterrorism program that did not target French citizens.

Rogers also suggested that US leaders failed to foresee the rise of fascism and communism in early 20th century Europe because American spies were not spying extensively on European allies’ communications.

“In the 1930s, we had this debate before. We decided we were going to turn off our ability to even listen to friends,” he said.

“Look what happened in the 30s, the rise of fascism and communism. We didn’t see any of it. It resulted in the death of really tens of millions of people.”

But the Republican lawmaker stressed that any intelligence activities between allies should remain “respectful” and “accurate,” as well as be subjected to proper oversight.


© AFP 2013


Rep. Mike Rogers: Information on NSA Spying Misinterpreted.

U.S. intelligence services are trying to collect information that protects the country’s interests, Rep. Mike Rogers insists, and many of the bits and pieces of information being leaked to the media are being misinterpreted.

The Michigan Republican, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN “State of the Union” host Candy Crowley that Europeans would be surprised if they knew the extent to which their own intelligence services are spying on the United States and other countries.

For example, Rogers said, the news media was presented with “one slide” concerning surveillance of French phone calls.

This “started a huge amount of discussion about Americans collecting phone calls in France with French citizens,” said Rogers. “That is 100 percent wrong. And that’s why this is so dangerous.”

Instead, said Rogers, “this was about a counter-terrorism program that had nothing to do with French citizens,” and if the French knew what all was involved in the investigation, “They would be applauding and popping champagne corks.”

As a result, Rogers said, such disclosures create “an international incident on something that’s absolutely wrong and incorrect.”

Rogers said the United States “should collect information that is helpful” to the country’s interests while not collecting what it doesn’t need.”

And in the case of German Chancellor Angela Merkel,  who whose country is angered because her calls have been monitored for a decade, Rogers said the disclosures “don’t necessarily fit in with what is actually happening.”

He pointed out that in the 1930s, the United States decided it would not monitor its friends activities, but “sometimes our friends have relationships with our adversaries…look what happened in the 30s. The rise of Fascism and Communism. It resulted in the deaths of literally tens of millions of people.”

Rogers admitted that the intelligence community does not know what information it needs until it gets it, but said other countries are also monitoring the United States.

“There’s a reason that the president’s BlackBerry is encrypted,” said Rogers. “There’s a lot of people that would like to get the conversations.”

Rogers said other countries don’t have the same oversight of its intelligence services that the United States does.

“Their compartmentalization is much smaller than ours,” said Rogers.

Further, in the United States, court orders must be gotten for certain surveillance activities.

“They don’t have that in our European capitals,” said Rogers, noting that Europe needs “a better oversight structure. They would be enlightened to find out what their intelligence services may or may not be doing.”

Meanwhile, collecting information is much more difficult now because of the Internet, Rogers said.

“A bad guy in Afghanistan can use networks in France or Germany or Great Britain or the United States and plan operations with somebody else who may be in Afghanistan,” said Rogers. “So the complication of what the U.S. intelligence services are doing is so much more difficult than it was even 10 years ago”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Snowden Has More Secrets to Share, Father Says.

Image: Snowden Has More Secrets to Share, Father Says

Lon Snowden.

NEW YORK — Edward Snowden’s father said Wednesday the former U.S. spy agency contractor has more secrets to share and should stay in Russia “to make sure the true story is told.”
Lon Snowden spoke at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York shortly after returning to the United States from a weeklong visit with his son in Moscow.

It was the first time they saw one another since Edward Snowden, an ex-National Security Agency contractor, was given temporary asylum in Russia earlier this year after leaking sensitive data on U.S. security agencies’ operations.

Asked what he told his son during the visit, Snowden told reporters: “To stay, but that’s my advice. It’s not necessarily what my son will do. He’s comfortable. He’s happy. And he’s absolutely committed to what he has done.”

The younger Snowden’s revelations about the reach and methods of the NSA, including the monitoring of vast volumes of Internet traffic and phone records, have upset U.S. allies from Germany to Brazil. Admirers call him a human rights champion and critics denounce him as a traitor.

“There’s much more to be shared,” Lon Snowden said.

Staying in Russia, Snowden said, allows his son “to continue to push these issues forward, to make sure the true story is told.”

“He’s not a fugitive. He’s a legal asylee of the Russian Federation and the press needs to get that right and I think our government understands that at this point.”

Snowden criticized the U.S. intelligence community as being negligent and complicit in the spying scandal, singling out Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Keith Alexander, Sen. Diane Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.

Russia has kept secret where the Snowdens met during the visit as well as where the son has been living. Moscow also has kept the media and public away from Edward Snowden, who has been shepherded by a lawyer believed to have ties with Russia’s secret services.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB spy, has repeatedly said that Russia would shelter Snowden only if he stopped harming the United States. But he has used the case to accuse Washington of preaching to the world about rights it does not uphold at home.

Lon Snowden’s flight home left from Sheremetyevo, the airport where his son spent nearly two months in the international zone before getting temporarily asylum in August.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Time to Start Protecting Intelligence Whistleblowers.

By Fred Fleitz

Leaks of classified information to the news media by former NSA technician Edward Snowden did major damage to U.S. national security by undermining electronic collection programs that have helped protect America from terrorist attacks by radical Islamist groups.

Some Americans view Snowden as a hero because of claims that his disclosures indicate the American government has been violating their privacy by collecting their phone records and spying on their internet use. Based on my 25 years working in the intelligence field — including five years on the House Intelligence Committee staff — I can say without hesitation that this is not the case.

While this does not justify his decision to break the law and violate his security oath, there are several issues brought to light by Snowden that need to be addressed by Congress.

Some of Snowden’s disclosures indicated mistakes made by the NSA in surveillance programs involving cell phone and Internet data of Americans. None of these mistakes suggest the NSA was spying on Americans or intended to do anything illegal.

Nevertheless, steps must be taken to tighten these programs to reassure the American people that U.S. intelligence agencies are not violating their privacy.

Congress also must examine how to better protect intelligence whistle-blowers and encourage them to bring their concerns to the intelligence oversight committees and not the news media, by designating the intelligence oversight committees as ‘safe harbors’ for intelligence whistle-blowers.

Under current law and intelligence agency regulations, intelligence officers must go through their management before bringing concerns to Congress. Some go to the Hill on their own because they fear retaliation.

There are many reasons Congress must correct this situation. Making it known that intelligence officers and others who hold security clearances can bring classified concerns about misconduct, abuse and illegal activity to the intelligence committees confidentially and without endangering their careers, would create a safety valve to discourage anyone who claims to be an intelligence whistle-blower from damaging U.S national security by going to the press.

I also believe direct access to intelligence whistle-blowers is crucial for robust congressional oversight of intelligence. It is incomprehensible that Congress set up intelligence oversight committees, but intelligence officers can be fired or have their clearances revoked if they talk to these committees without permission.

Making the intelligence oversight committees safe harbors for intelligence whistle-blowers is not a new idea. Congress almost passed legislation to do this in 1998 that included this language:

“It is imperative that individuals with sensitive or classified information about misconduct within the Executive Branch have a ‘safe harbor’ for disclosure where they know the information will be properly safeguarded and thoroughly investigated.”

Language to make the congressional oversight committees safe harbors for intelligence whistle-blowers made it to a House-Senate conference committee on the 1999 intelligence authorization bill but was dropped due to a veto threat by the Clinton White House.

So how would Congress provide safe harbor to intelligence whistle-blowers? While I believe the House and Senate intelligence committees could set up procedures to protect classified information provided by whistle-blowers, the administration is certain to veto any legislation allowing an intelligence officer to go to Congress without informing his management or the inspector general.

The Senate could possibly force the White House to agree to such legislation by putting holds on key nominations.

Congress could set up safe harbor arrangements despite administration and intelligence community opposition by simply announcing that intelligence whistle-blowers will be given safe harbor and their identities will be protected.

Another option would be for the intelligence oversight committees to set up a classified hotline for intelligence whistle-blowers to call from their agencies.

Other steps should be taken before Congress attempts to provide safe harbor for intelligence whistle-blowers. The Snowden case suggests more should be done to screen government employees who hold security clearances, especially those with wide access such as computer systems technicians.

A related problem is that too many people in government have high level clearances and too many of them are contractors.

A government-wide education and counseling program should be initiated on the seriousness of the Snowden case and to explain legal avenues that would-be intelligence whistle-blowers can use to legally raise their concerns without harming U.S. national security. Ombudsmen and inspector generals in intelligence agencies need to be beefed up, made more independent and do more to reach out to employees.

Unfortunately, there will be more U.S. government employees with high-level security clearances like Edward Snowden who, for political reasons, to get attention for themselves, or due to personal vendettas, won’t be deterred from harming their country by leaking national security information to the press.

There also are genuine whistle-blowers afraid to follow the current rules. Legitimizing direct appeals to the congressional oversight committees by making these committees safe harbors for intelligence whistle-blowers could stop some of these people from going to the press, by enabling them to lodge confidential complaints with Congress requesting independent investigations and shielding them from retaliation.

This would satisfy any genuine whistle-blower that his or her complaint was being taken seriously and would be investigated. They would then have no legitimate reason to go to the press.

This is a small step in response to the Snowden fiasco that could help protect U.S. national security information and enhance congressional oversight of intelligence. It also is a step that is long overdue.

Fred Fleitz served for 25 years with the CIA, the State Department, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He is currently Chief Analyst with, Newsmax Media’s global intelligence and forecasting service. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Michael Hayden: Snowden Had More Honorable Course Then Leaking.

Although polls show more Americans see Edward Snowden as a whistleblower than traitor, officials on Capitol Hill and in the intelligence community maintain that if the National Security Agency renegade were sincere about exposing excessive government eavesdropping, there was a better and more honorable way than fleeing to Hong Kong and now Russia.

These officials say that if Snowden had been willing to testify before a Congressional committee it almost certainly would have triggered an all-out investigation of the PRISM surveillance system that he instead revealed by leaking classified material to the press.

Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency, told Newsmax, “There are other avenues available to people disturbed by government programs, such as a review board or a congressional investigating committee. All Snowden had to do was raise his right hand to be sworn in and then put the whole elephant out there.”

Debate over Snowden’s sincerity and course of action was sparked by a recent Quinnipiac Poll showing that among likely voters nationwide, 55 percent thought Snowden was a whistleblower and only 34 percent considered him a traitor.

President Barack Obama told a news conference Friday, “I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot,” adding, “If, in fact, he believes that what he did was right, then, like every American citizen, he can come here, appear before the court with a lawyer and make his case.”

But others believe that Snowden might have made his case before a Congressional committee and secured a desired investigation.

Examples have been cited going back to the 1940s when former Soviet undercover courier Elizabeth Bentley testified before a House committee about U.S. government officials secretly helping Moscow. Her testimony was supported by former communist turned Time magazine senior editor Whittaker Chambers.

In 1963, former gangland hitman Joseph Valachi kept the nation riveted with his testimony before a Senate committee that confirmed existence of a national crime syndicate and made household words out of the terms “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra.”

Would the appropriate Congressional committees have taken up Snowden’s sensational charges with the same vigor that past committees pursued the revelations of Bentley or Valachi?

“Yes, why not?” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, told Newsmax.

“If Snowden were a true whistleblower, he should have come forward and sought protection under the whistleblower laws, “Goodlatte said.

At his press conference Friday, Obama made reference to those laws, noting, “I signed an executive order well before Mr. Snowden leaked this information that provided whistleblower protection to the intelligence community — for the first time”.

Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax: “I would have reviewed all of the Snowden information to see if there was anything that I had not been informed off.”

“Whether on the Intelligence Committee or the Education and Labor Committee, I always had the highest respect for federal employees who would take personal risk to inform Congress of things they thought were inappropriate,” said Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican.

Hoekstra recalled how while in the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee, “I was informed by sources of programs and projects … that the intelligence community was involved with, that the committee was not informed of. These programs were not related to the NSA program. I followed up and found out that the information was accurate.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By John Gizzi

CIA Vet: Obama Administration ‘Most Irresponsible Ever’ on Leaks.

The disclosure that an intercepted call between al-Qaida leaders led the United States to shut down embassies and issue a world travel alert has destroyed a major source of fighting terror, according to Fred Fleitz, chief analyst at the global intelligence website LIGNET.

“This was pure gold in terms of intelligence. This should have been tightly held … something historians would have read about years from now,” Fleitz said Friday on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“We can be sure there’ll be no more conference calls like this. This source has been burned,” he said.

Story continues below video.

Fleitz began working at LIGNET — an acronym for the Langley Intelligence Group Network, Newsmax Media‘s global intelligence website — after a 25-year career with the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of State, and the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

This week, the U.S. government closed diplomatic posts in 22 countries after the interception of a conference call between al-Qaida’s senior leaders and representatives — surveillance leaked to the press by an unidentified source.

“This is the most irresponsible administration ever on intelligence,” Fleitz said. “Intelligence like this doesn’t grow on trees. It’s not a limitless resource. It’s not a political chip that a presidential administration should play to make themselves look better.”

The federal government has been under fire following the disclosure by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the agency was collecting phone and email records of Americans in an effort to uncover terrorist plots.

In his press conference Friday, President Barack Obama said that even before the leaks by Snowden, who is now in Russia, his administration had launched a study into how the NSA’s surveillance techniques could be improved.

“It’s news to me that the administration was going to do anything about the NSA program,” Fleitz said. “I don’t think the NSA programs were illegal; I’m a defender of them and I give the president credit.”

“He said despite these allegations that are really dividing the country and creating a lot of anger on Capitol Hill, there’s been no evidence that they’ve been abused.

“There’s been no evidence that the government’s listening to phone calls; there’s no evidence that the government is reading emails,” Fleitz added.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Bill Hoffmann

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