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NSA chief defends surveillance programs

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The new director of the United States’ National Security Agency has defended the controversial spy organization’s electronic surveillance programs.

In his first interview since taking the helm of both the NSA and US Cyber Command in April, Mike Rogers said the programs were legal and needed better explanation rather than an overhaul.

Last year, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of numerous top-secret NSA surveillance programs to media. The revelations damaged US ties with allies like Germany and France by showing the level of Washington’s spying activities on them over years.

Rogers told the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington that some NSA staff were “confused” by the onslaught of criticism because a series of official reviews found that the agency had for the most part abided by US law.

He said the agency’s internal security, which allowed Snowden to remove thousands of secret documents, had been too lax. “Clearly we should not have allowed this to happen,” Rogers said.

He also vowed to lead the spy agency with greater transparency. Rogers said he had told the rank and file at the NSA that they should keep on as before, but come forward internally with anything they felt to be improper.

“It is by design that I have tried to start a series of engagements with a broader and perhaps more different groups than we have traditionally done,” Rogers told the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington.

“The dialogue to date that we have had for much of the last nine months or so from my perspective, I wish was a little bit broader, had a little more context to it, and was a little bit more balanced.”

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