President Barack Obama on Thursday told lawmakers he is open to changing controversial surveillance programs in order to restore public confidence and provide assurance the government is not violating citizens’ privacy, participants at the meeting said.
“We understand the American people really do need to know what’s going on now and what’s going on in the past and get the right kind of assurances that their privacy has not been breached,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss, who attended the meeting.
“We’ve got to figure out ways to make the program more transparent,” he said.
Since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed widespread government collection of phone and Internet records, a debate has erupted over how far the government should be allowed to go in monitoring its citizens’ communications to protect the country from attacks.
Opposition to government surveillance has created an unlikely alliance of libertarian Republicans and some Democrats in Congress. The House of Representatives last week narrowly defeated an amendment to a spending bill that would have limited the NSA’s scope to collect electronic information.