TODAY   |  June 18, 2013

Obama asks NSA: Look into declassifying more

As NSA leaker Edward Snowden reveals more secrets about the agency’s surveillance programs, President Obama is speaking out, saying he has asked the intelligence community to “see how much of this we can declassify without further compromising the program.” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> mitchell, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. democrats and republicans want the head of the national security agency to explain just how edward snowden gained access to so many secrets and whether the surveillance programs are worth the trade off in personal privacy . even on the world stage president obama was trailed by the embarrassing leaks potentially undermining his arguments for cyber security . he says american citizens are not spied on by their government without a court order and probable cause for a terror plot during a interview.

>> if you are a u.s. person the nsa cannot listen to your telephone calls and the nsa cannot target your e-mails.

>> and have not.

>> and have not.

>> but in a web chat with the guardian on monday, snowden wrote, if i target, for example an e- mail address and that e- mail address sent something to you, joe america, the analyst gets it. all of it. that worries new york city police commissioner ray kelly whose department has the most extensive information gathering force of any in the nation.

>> the fact that they can rummage through this material without authorization is something that needs to be looked at.

>> reporter: snowden denied he is sharing secrets with shy in a. ask yourself, if i were a chinese spy, why wouldn't i have flown directly into bejing. his father said he loved him but pleaded for him to stop leaking.

>> i don't know what you have seen but i just ask that you measure what you're going to do and not release any more information.

>> reporter: faced with the growing controversy the president said the u.s. does not have to sacrifice freedom for security.

>> what i have asked them to do is see how much of this we can declassify without further compromising the program.

>> reporter: defiant in his online chat snowden promised more leaks to come. intelligence officials are searching through their computers to learn how much he already accessed with some estimating that the tally is up to 1 million secret documents .