Policy: National Security

White House: NSA programs don't violate Americans' privacy

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Beltway Confidential,White House,Brian Hughes,Homeland Security,National Security,PennAve,NSA,Surveillance,Privacy

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough insisted Sunday that the federal government's massive Internet and phone surveillance programs don't violate Americans' privacy, a sentiment he said President Obama would outline in coming days.

"We do have to find the right balance, especially in this new situation when we find ourselves, with all of us reliant on Internet, on email, on texting," McDonough said on CBS' "Face the Nation." So we find ourselves communicating in different ways - but that means the bad guys are doing that as well."

Obama hasn't spoken about the controversial data-gathering techniques since answering two questions from reporters more than a week ago. McDonough said the president would again address the issue "in the days ahead."

According to Obama's chief of staff, the president has issued a series of new directives to improve oversight of surveillance programs that originated in President George W. Bush's administration — but he did not provide many details about those changes.

"The president is not saying, 'trust me,'" McDonough said. "The president is saying, 'I want every member of Congress, on whose authority we are running this program, to understand it, to be briefed about it and to be comfortable with it.'"

Some lawmakers say they were left in the dark about the scope of the NSA initiatives. In recent days, the administration has hosted a series of closed-door briefings on Capitol Hill to minimize blowback.

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