Advisory group makes recommendations to reform NSA surveillance

The White House announced it received recommendations for NSA reforms from an advisory group in response to revelations about the scope of U.S. surveillance. The suggestions include new rules for collecting and storing phone data and tighter standards for spying on foreign leaders. Margaret Warner reports.


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Late today, the White House announced that the president has received an advisory committee's recommendations on revamping the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency. And The Washington Post reported that the NSA can crack cell phone security codes, giving them the capability to listen in on private calls and text messages.

Tonight, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner continues her conversations with lawmakers on reforming government surveillance.

MARGARET WARNER: Documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have triggered six months of explosive revelations and recriminations. The documents showed the vast reach of NSA data collection, of phone calls, texts, Internet searches and e-mails vacuumed up, stored, and analyzed, the targets, not just foreigners, but many Americans.

In August, the president announced two reviews of NSA activities.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And a general impression has, I think, taken hold not only among the American public, but also around the world, that somehow we're out there willy-nilly just sucking in information on everybody.

MARGARET WARNER: Today, The Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported that one advisory group has drafted a host of recommendations, including new rules for collecting and storing phone data and tighter standards for spying on foreign leaders.

REP. MIKE ROGERS, R-Mich.: There has been no willful use to misuse the privacy of just your phone numbers, not even your name.

MARGARET WARNER: Last night on the NewsHour, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers defended the NSA's activities, saying more than 50 attacks had been thwarted as a result.

And you know that to be the case?

MIKE ROGERS: I absolutely know that to be the case.

MARGARET WARNER: But leading critics, like Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have urged the president to rein in the NSA.