The House Intelligence Committee heard testimony Tuesday from National Security Agency Chief Gen. Keith Alexander defending the government's surveillance programs.
Alexander led a parade of witnesses who described how the programs have helped foil at least 50 terrorist plots.
"As Americans, we value our privacy and our civil liberties," Alexander told lawmakers. "As Americans, we also value our security and our safety. In the 12 years since the attacks on Sept. 11, we have lived in relative safety and security as a nation."
"That security is a direct result of the intelligence community's quiet efforts to better connect the dots and learn from the mistakes that permitted those attacks to occur in 9/11," he said.
President Obama has been talking a lot about transparency. After all the scandal for the administration, is it too little too late? CBN News's David Brody addresses that question and more on Newswatch, June 18.
The NSA has been under fire since leaker Edward Snowden accused the agency of casting a wide surveillance net - big enough to capture conversations of ordinary Americans.
As world leaders concluded their G-8 meeting in Northern Ireland, Snowden gave the Guardian newspaper more top information.
The documents show how Britain spied on diplomats at a similar meeting four years ago, and how the United States listened into Russian President Vladimir Putin's conversations.
President Obama claimed Americans can have both liberty and protection.
"What I have said and I continue to believe is that we don't have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security. That's a false choice. That doesn't mean that there are not trade-offs involved in any given program, any given action that we take," the president said in a pre-summit interview with PBS's Charlie Rose.
Obama tried to assure U.S. citizens that "big brother" isn't hovering.
"What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails," he said.
"They cannot and have not, by law and by rule," he reiterated. "And unless they - and usually it would not be they, it would be the FBI - go to a court and obtain a warrant."
The fallout from multiple scandals is hurting the president in the polls, especially among technically savvy young people. A new CNN poll shows he's now at a 45 percent favorable rating, down from 53 percent in mid-May.
Only 49 percent said they believe the president is honest, and 53 percent doubt he can "manage the government effectively."
Both Republicans and Democrats have stepped forward in recent days to defend the Washington national security arm. But in the scandal plagued capital, public trust in government is not a plentiful commodity.