“These programs are legal, transparent, and contain the appropriate checks and balances among executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government,” King said in a statement. For the president to promise changes rather than standing up for the NSA programs as they exist, King said, was “a monumental failure in presidential wartime leadership and responsibility.”
Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, another Republican supporter of the NSA programs, was not as negative, merely warning that any changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “must be made on a strong bipartisan basis and must not impede the intelligence community’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks.”
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who has criticized the NSA programs, was more upbeat, welcoming the president’s announcement, but urging him to not stop there.
“This is an important first step – but I will keep fighting to ensure it’s not the administration’s last in this direction,” Udall said. “The administration must do a better job balancing our national security with our constitutional privacy rights.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took a cautious route. A statement from his spokesman, Brendan Buck, blamed the public uproar over NSA surveillance to “the president’s reluctance to sufficiently explain and defend it.” Nonetheless, Buck did not speak against reform, instead saying that any changes must avoid compromising the agency’s effectiveness.
“Our priority should continue to be saving American lives, not saving face,” Buck said.