Face the Nation transcripts June 16, 2013: McDonough and Rogers on NSA surveillance

Syria, the NSA and more with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and a panel featuring David Corn, Barton Gellman, Peggy Noonan and Rick Stengel

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on June 16, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. Plus, a panel featuring the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, Time Magazine's Rick Stengel, the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, and Mother Jones' David Corn.

SCHIEFFER: Today only on Face the Nation, White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough. As the president's top aide sits down with us this morning, there's no shortage of things to talk about -- the decision to give military aid to the Syrian rebels, the national security leaks, possible scandals brewing in the State Department, and a lot more. We'll get reaction from the chairman of the house intelligence committee, Mike Rogers. Plus, analysis from an all-star panel, including Barton Gellman, who broke the story of those national security leaks in the "Washington Post," the managing editor of "Time" magazine, Rick Stengel, "Wall Street Journal" columnist Peggy Noonan and David Corn of "Mother Jones." It's all ahead because this is Face the Nation.

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: Good morning, again. And we begin this morning with the White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough. Mr. McDonough, thank you so much. Happy Father's Day's to you. You're a father of...

MCDONOUGH: Three. Thank you very much, Bob. I'm -- it's the best job I'll ever have, as the president said the other day. And it's a great pleasure to be with you. Happy Father's Day to you as well.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much. Let's start with the news here. And that is the National Security Agency disclosures about whether Americans' privacy has been invaded. This morning in the "Washington Post," Barton Gellman, who will be along later this morning on this broadcast, has a big front- page story about government officials. And he just underlines that this is something that's been going on for a long time. They've been worried about National Security Agency encroaching on Americans' privacy. Back in 2004, two officials at the time -- the acting attorney general, James Comey, and the FBI Director Mueller threatened to resign because they thought the surveillance was being done -- that they were intruding on privacy. They didn't. But I must say, Mr. McDonough, a lot of what the story underlines seems very much like we're hearing -- what we're hearing about today with these disclosures by Edward Snowden. So let me just ask you to start. Do you have any comment on this story that Bart Gellman has this morning?

MCDONOUGH: I saw the Bart Gellman story. And he has obviously worked on this over the couple of the last couple of weeks pretty aggressively. I will say that much of what he was working on was a draft inspector general report about a program that was suspended now several years ago because of the way we saw its usefulness. That's point one. Point two, you mentioned Jim Comey, who was a deputy attorney general at the time, he's recently been considered among many other people for a lead job by President Obama to include potentially as FBI director. It's precisely because of his views on things like surveillance that I think he's come to the president's attention. Three, let's take a minute and step back. The debate in 2004- 2005 was about a program that did not have any congressional involvement, did not have any judicial oversight and frankly did not have any of the internal administration-based checks and balances that we have today. When President Obama came into office in 2009, after being elected in 2008, he was pretty skeptical about the importance of these programs. So he took a very hard look at them. And as a result, we changed many things about how we oversee those programs. Congress now is much more robustly involved in these programs, you'll hear that from your next guest, not just the intelligence committees, but also the judicial committees and every member of congress has been given an -- a classified white paper to review to take a look at these. So part of what you see reflected in the Bart Gellman story is part of what the president was reacted to when he made fundamental changes in how we oversee these programs.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me get you on the record here now. Does the president feel that he has violated the privacy of any American?

MCDONOUGH: He does not.

SCHIEFFER: You feel that that has been taken care of? You know, I think back to what Ronald Reagan used to say, "trust but verify." But in this situation, it seems to me the government may be asking us to trust it, but they can't verify why we ought to trust it in some cases.

MCDONOUGH: Well, I think you'll hear the president talk about this in the days ahead, Bob. And you'll hear him say again what he said in his speech earlier this month at the war college, at the National Defense University. You hear what he said when he responded to reporters last week on this question, which is we do have to find the right balance, especially in this new situation where we find ourselves with all of us reliant on internet, on e-mail, on texting. So we find ourselves communicating in different ways, but that means the bad guys are doing that as well. So, we have to find the right balance between protecting our privacy -- which is sacrosanct in the president's view -- and protecting the country from the very real risks we face. So what -- nobody is -- the president is not saying -- and this goes to the heart of the changes he made in 2009 -- the president is not saying, "trust me." The president is saying I want every member of congress on whose authority we are running this program, to understand it, to be briefed about it, and to be comfortable with it, that's why we've done things like we did in 2009 and 2011 by presenting a classified white paper, inviting every member of congress -- 535 members of them -- to see that piece of paper, to study it and to come to us with questions. Congress has authorized these programs now in very robust debates. And those debates are to their credit. But at the end of the day, it was bipartisan majorities that enacted these. And lastly, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FISA court, looks at all those programs on a very regular basis to make sure that they comport with the law, that they comport with our standards and our values. And throughout this process, we have independent audits that are conduct bide inspectors general and by the Department of Justice at NSA, to make sure that this is being conducted in a way that stands up to our values. And to be honest with you, I think if Bob Mueller and Jim Comey, who were having that conversation in 2004, could see what would transpire over the subsequent several years they'd be very comfortable with the programs we're running today, And in fact both of them are.