Critics Say Proposed NSA Revamp Not Good Enough

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Members of Congress are pushing back against President Barack Obama's call for changes at the National Security Agency.

The president wants a new civil liberties officer at the NSA and a commission to review intelligence programs, like collecting telephone records, with Congress.

Obama said the changes will make the NSA's surveillance programs more transparent.

"It is not enough for me as president to have confidence in these program," Obama said. "The American people need to have confidence as well."

But critics say the changes don't go far enough and really aren't changes at all.

"We need to ask questions, like why did (NSA leader Edward) Snowden have access to the information he had? It couldn't have been part of his job," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said.

"What about congressional oversight," he continued. "Have we had a failure there? And, clearly, Mr. Snowden's being granted asylum in Russia is a signal of incredibly bad relations between the United States (and Russia)."

Even Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who has supported the president's stand on the NSA program in the past, said it's important to send the country, and the president, a message, that "this is something that we cannot allow you to have just a blank check on."

Still, former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden issued a word of caution to the American people.

"The president is trying to take some steps to make the American people more comfortable about what it is we're doing. That's going to be hard because, frankly, some steps to make Americans more comfortable will actually make Americans less safe," Hayden told CBS's "Face the Nation."

Snowden's father, Lon Snowden, responded to the speech saying his son is not a traitor. But he also said that while he believes in the American justice system, he isn't sure his son could get a fair trial.

"As a father, I want my son to come home if I believe that the justice system that we should be afforded as Americans is going to be applied correctly," Lon Snowden told ABC's "This Week."

"What I would say is that my son has spoken the truth," he continued. "He has sacrificed more than either the president of the United States or Rep. Peter King have ever in their political careers or their American lives."

While Snowden's leaks have created a huge headache for the Obama administration, the president insists he is not the reason for his call for changes at the NSA.

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CBN News
Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at