Lawmakers: NSA Changes Step in the Right Direction


Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are praising President Barack Obama's plan to overhaul the National Security Agency's surveillance programs despite disagreeing with some of the details.

The programs have been under fire since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents about the agency's surveillance operations.

The president now wants bulk phone data stored outside the government to reduce the risk of abuse. He also wants a special judge's approval before intelligence agencies can examine specific data.

Democrats and Republicans said the president is moving in the right direction, but some question the changes.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Obama had intensified a sense of uncertainty about the country's ability to root out terrorist threats.

Obama didn't say who should have control of Americans' data; he directed the attorney general and director of national intelligence to find a solution within 60 days.

"We really did need a decision on Friday, and what we got was lots of uncertainty," Rogers charged. "And just in my conversations over the weekend with intelligence officials, this new level of uncertainty is already having a bit of an impact on our ability to protect Americans by finding terrorists who are trying to reach into the United States."

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told ABC News Obama was moving in the right direction.

"I think what gave most Americans heartburn was that this data was being stored under the NSA and warehoused under the government," he said.

"I think it's very difficult to decide who has the capability to store and use this data," McCaul added.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed.

"And I think that's a very difficult thing because the whole purpose of this program is to provide instantaneous information to be able to disrupt any plot that may be taking place," she said Sunday. "And I think we need to be prepared. I think we need to do it in a way that respects people's privacy rights."

The president has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to devise a plan to overhaul the surveillance program by March 28.

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