Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, a member of the panel that reviewed the National Security Agency’s data collection and surveillance, defended the agency’s surveillance practices.
“I think there’s some very important context here,” he said, pointing to the fact that there have been no successful terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11.
He went on to argue that the agency did not abuse its powers in conducting the surveillance program. “There is this view out there that somehow, the National Security Agency was out there on its own doing all of these things,” Morell told CBS News’s Bob Schieffer. “Not the case. It was doing exactly what its government asked it to do.”
Morell also said he opposes granting amnesty to NSA leaker Edward Snowden in exchange for a return of his stolen data. “He violated the trust put in him by the United States government. He has committed a crime, in my view. You know, a whistleblower doesn’t run,” he said. “A whistleblower does not disclose information that has nothing to do with what he says his cause is, which is the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.”
The White House–selected panel released its report on Thursday. “There was no abuse here,” Morell concluded. “They were doing exactly what they were told to do.”