Meet the Press   |  July 28, 2013

Rogers reflects on House NSA vote

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan talks about NSA surveillance program policies and the recent vote in his chamber targeting specific authorizations.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> let me come back to these nsa programs and momentous week. i wanted to have you on because i wanted to get into this debate, which we've had in the house. you had 205 members of the house including 94 republicans who, and i'm boiling this down, essentially voted to scrap these programs that allow the nsa, the national security agency , to sweep up what's called the meta data , which is call details in the united states in order to track down terrorists. last month, general haden, michael haden, former head of the nsa, former head of the cia, was on "meet the press." he said the following about these programs. listen.

>> i think it's living in this kind of a democracy, we're going to have to be a little bit less effective in order to be a little bit more transparent to get to do anything to defend the american people .

>> do you agree with what general hayden said there?

>> well, i'm not sure what point he was making there, but let me tell you this, i mean, i share the frustration of the american people , and that's what we saw happen recently. it was a collision of really bad, awful policies and ideas coming out of administration, the data hub that would take social security and health information and other information, put it in one place. all of that is bad, and we should all be very concerned about it. the problem was this was i think the first opportunity for members who are frustrated about those things and the american public is frustrated about those things, and by the way i'm frustrated about those thing, and say this is exactly the same. unfortunately, it's not. so this is a program -- let's talk about why we have it, and this is really important to get to the point, should we or shouldn't we. after 9/11, our intelligence services knew about a guy who was a pretty bad guy that we believed was going to be involved in some type of attempt in the united states to commit an act of violence , a terrorist, who was living in san diego . but because we couldn't find the nexus, we were not allowed to find out if somebody from overseas was calling in to the united states to talk to him, we couldn't get that piece, we missed it. he got on a plane and flew it into the pentagon shortly thereafter. so we said that's a scene we have to fix. how do we do that.

>> but --

>> and what we ended up doing is the program they tried to turn off is the program that catches foreign terrorists from talking to people in the united states , helps us identify those individuals.

>> and again, in talking to senior government officials this week, the way to understand these programs is as they lay it out is a suspected terrorist calls somebody in the united states , the way you put those two together is you have a haystack, and in the haystack in the united states is basically every phone number that is swept up in the united states . it's not the content of the calls. it's the details. and it's put in this kind of vault in, you know, a cloud scenario. and you get the ping, you get that relationship in the haystack. is there any better way to provide privacy, when it's been explained to me, you have the haystack of phone numbers and call detornados or you don't, and that's what libertarians are really concerned about?

>> i understand. but here's the thing. there are so many protections on this. there are no names and no addresses in this database. there's more information on an envelope that you fill out and stick in the mailbox than are in this database. this is billing records that already exist. they said we just need to put them in one place and hold them long sore we have a number to compare them to. so they're not calling them. they're not doing pattern analysis . here's the best news of all. in this program, zero privacy violations, 54 terrorist, violent terrorist attacks thwarted. that's a pretty good record. that's a great record. and that tells me this is one program that works to protect your privacy and li up to our constitutional obligation in congress that says we must provide for the general defense of the united states . we have found how to do this and protect your privacy. remember, most people think these phone calls are recorded. they're not. most people think their names are associated with these phone numbers . they're not. it's just a whole list of phone numbers with no names and no addresses. when a terrorist number, just a terrorist number is found, they plug it in to these numbers and it pops up with somebody they may be talking to in the united states . again, no name and no address. what we do with that is say, oh, that's bad, we're going to give this to the fbi to determine who that person even is. and so that's the way we protected privacy nap's why there's been zero privacy violations with this, and it's been able to used ed td to stop 54 violent terrorist attacks .