Morell defends NSA surveillance program

Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director and member of the panel that last week suggested National Security Agency reforms to President Obama, on Sunday defended NSA surveillance.

“I think there’s some very important context here … One is that there has not been a successful terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11,” Morell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The other is that there is this view out there that somehow the National Security Agency was out there on its own doing all of these things. Not the case,” he added

{mosads}When asked if the NSA violated Americans’ privacy, Morell responded, “No, I do not believe that. The NSA is not spying on Americans.”

“There was no abuse here,” said Morell, who twice served as acting CIA director. “They were doing exactly what they were told to do.”

“I think one of the misperceptions out there at the moment is that the review group did not see value in this program,” Morell said.

“What we’re recommending is that because this program remains important, OK, perhaps not as important as some have said, but because it remains important, it’s important for the government to continue to be able to query this data.”

The panel recommended that the government should not hold telephone metadata and the NSA should have to get a court order for every time they want to query the data.

Morell said that his preference would be for a private consortia to hold the data.

Morell also said he feels “strongly” that NSA leaker Edward Snowden should not receive amnesty in exchange for returning his trove of stolen secrets.

“He violated the trust put in him by the United States government. He has committed a crime in my view. You know, a whistleblower doesn’t run,” Morell said. “A whistleblower does not disclose information that has nothing to do with what he says his cause is, which is the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.”

–This report was updated at 11:42 a.m.

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