Nightly News   |  August 10, 2013

Americans divided over surveillance programs

President Obama began his nine-day family vacation Saturday afternoon but even on Martha’s Vineyard there was no break from the ongoing debate about his administration's controversial surveillance programs. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> up and headed for the beach today. but for the president, it's a little tougher to leave his troubles behind. especially the day after he tried to persuade skeptics the massive government surveillance program is necessary for national security . nbc's kristen welker reports from edgartown, massachusetts tonight.

>> reporter: president obama began his nine-day family vacation this afternoon, but even on martha's vineyard there was no break from the ongoing debate about his administration's controversial surveillance program.

>> although i understand the necessity of them, for my own protection, i'm concerned that there are no controls how far they go.

>> more concerned about the safety and safety of the country than any individual liberties.

>> reporter: on friday the president tried to calm the public fear by announcing new measures aimed at enhancing transparency and strengthening oversight.

>> we can and must be more transparent.

>> reporter: but across the country today, there's still sharp disagreement. some say they are encouraged.

>> we won't know for sure until they're implemented whether they go far enough.

>> probably important to have transparency so people can get onboard with the program.

>> reporter: others remain deeply skeptical.

>> very disappointed, and, yeah i think we should fight against that. i think we have to push obama to do better. it's not good enough.

>> i think mostly overly intrusive and a threat to democracy and a threat to the basic principles of the republic for which americans fought and died.

>> reporter: highlighted in a recent poll shows 56% of americans are worried the united states will go too far in violating privacy rights pap dramatic shift from the post-9/11 era, 55% expressed concern the u.s. wouldn't go far enough in monitoring potential terrorists.

>> i think the public's concerns about these surveillance programs are not going to be settled until there is more discussion, more debate and more action. i think this is an issue that isn't cooked yet.

>> reporter: while on vacation, president obama will get regular briefings including by his national security adviser susan rice , but the process of reforming the nsa will have to wait until congress is back in session in september. kate?