Rep. McCaul says Obama now trying to 'salvage' NSA program

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The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said on Sunday that President Obama has inadequately explained the National Security Agency’s controversial telephone surveillance program. 

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that the program, which has come under fire from privacy advocates, was not against the law.

“I think when the story initial broke, the president went undercover,” McCaul said. “He just finally came out last Friday with ways to try to salvage the program by window dressing.

“The problem, fundamentally, is he has failed to explain these programs, which are lawful, which have saved lives, which have stopped terrorist plots,” McCaul continued. “He has not adequately explained them, and now he’s in a bit of a mess because after the IRS scandal, where people don’t trust this government with their tax records, they sure don’t trust them with their phone records.”

McCaul said he saw “no evidence” that Obama was planning to discuss the surveillance program before its existence was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“I think Snowden came out, leaked this information, and the White House has been backtracking ever since.”

McCaul attributed Obama’s reticence to discuss the surveillance program to his desire to claim credit for winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“He wants to sculpt this legacy that he is the peacemaker, but at the same time, he is ramping up drone strikes,” McCaul said. “Drone strikes are not going to defeat an ideology. There’s a rhetoric and a reality.

"I think it’s dangerous. You can’t wish this threat away. I get these briefings. I would be derelict in my responsibility to say that this whole thing is over and to do nothing.”