WASHINGTON: Two Republican congressmen Sunday defended Washington’s surveillance programs abroad in reaction to protests from allies, after the wide scope of the eavesdropping was revealed this year by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, said much of the public information on those efforts, including allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency had spied on millions of French citizens, was misguided.
“They are seeing three or four pieces of a thousand-piece puzzle and trying to come to a conclusion,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Nation.”
The media was given one slide, which included the word “France” on it, Rogers said, which “started a huge amount of discussion about Americans collecting phone calls in France with French citizens.”
“That is 100 percent wrong,” he said. The slide referred to a counterterrorism program that had nothing to do with French citizens, he said.
Instead, Rogers said, European authorities don’t have enough oversight of their intelligence services. He suggested that the new revelations were not surprises to European intelligence agencies, but only to the governments for which they work.
Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said: “The president should stop apologizing, stop being defensive.
“We’re not doing this for the fun of it,” King said. “This is to gather valuable intelligence which helps not just us but also helps the Europeans.”
The Obama administration and many lawmakers have defended the NSA programs as crucial in protecting national security and helping thwart militant plots. They have also said the programs are carefully overseen by Congress and the courts.