NSA breaches will prompt more legislation, congressmen say

The latest revelations about abuses within the National Security Agency's surveillance programs shows the agency can't be trusted to police itself and that Congress should enact tougher forms of oversight, several lawmakers said Sunday.

"I want to rephrase Ronald Reagan and say we should trust but codify," Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Put it in a code what they can do... Now they said they get all these phone records, but they only query the information judiciously. Well, I can't find anything in the code that limits what they can do with that information, particularly in criminal investigations."

NSA officials have said its attempts to monitor for terrorist activities do not threaten Americans' civil liberties. At a Las Vegas conference for hackers last month, NSA Director Keith Alexander said, "I think it is important to understand the strict oversight that goes in, in these programs because the assumption is that people are out there wheeling and dealing and nothing could be further from the truth. We have tremendous oversight and compliance in these programs."

However, the latest leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA broke privacy rules more than 2,700 times within just one year.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said on "Face the Nation" that he met with President Obama recently and told him that there needs to be a careful examination of NSA programs and that "the trust of the American people in their government is what's at stake here."

Goodlatte said he has "absolutely no doubt" that his committee will take up legislation on the issue: "Some of the things that are suggested are to make it clear that the law, Section 215 [of the Patriot Act], does not allow the government to gather large sums of data like they do."

Last month, the House narrowly rejected a bill that would have done just that. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., the sponsor of the bill, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that he's hopeful there will be another vote on the measure.

"I certainly heard from a number of my colleagues directly and through the media that they feel differently about the amendment now that if they had a second chance, yes, they might have voted yes on it," he said.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., voted against the Amash amendment but said on "State of the Union" that there should be reforms to prevent the kinds of abuses that came to light last week.

"In fact, I'm working on an initiative to do exactly that," he said. "What's the standard for the NSA being able to search or query that data [it collects from phone companies]? Right now, you have to have a reasonable suspicion that that phone number was involved in terrorist activity. My concern is, NSA can reach that judgment unilaterally. You do not have to get advance notice from the FISA court. So, I propose that before they do any kind of query, any kind of search, they have to go to the FISA court."

Van Hollen also said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (known as the FISA Court, or FISC) should include a "citizen's advocate to take the adversarial position" -- a proposal already introduced in the Senate.