Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is among key U.S. leaders at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday to address allegations that the National Security Agency monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander defended the agency's intelligence gathering activities, stating it has saved lives "not only here but in Europe and around the world."
The hearing was originally intended to discuss domestic issues, Schiff told MSNBC, however, recent reports on spying on American allies changed the nature of the hearing, he added.
"I think spying on the allied leaders, except for potentially in the most extraordinary of situations, is not consistent with our values and also jeopardizes those important relationships," he said.
Schiff, a senior member of the U.S. Intelligence Committee, said he was not briefed on surveillance on allies and he wants to reform the NSA's metadata program, which was leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
"I do think that the metadata program needs to be re-examined. This is something I raised years before this became public," Schiff said. "I don't see why the government has to acquire this data. I don't see why we can't simply go to the telecommunications providers when we have reason to believe a number is connected with a terrorist plot."
In addition to reforming the agency's metadata pull collection program, Schiff wants to allow for non-governmental attorneys to participate before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) as "public-interest advocates" in significant constitutional cases and reviews of major surveillance programs.
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