TODAY   |  December 16, 2013

McCain: US intelligence needs more Senate oversight

Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. is actively working with Iran to find retired FBI Robert Levinson, who was recently revealed as working under contract with the CIA while in Iran. Menawhile, Sen. John McCain said U.S. intelligence agencies may need more Senate oversight. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>> let's turn to washington where serious questions are swirling about whether the cia mislead congress about the fate of robert levinson . he was working for the agency nearly seven years ago when he was in iran . chuck todd , good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, robert levinson is now the longest held american hostage ever and while the u.s. government has denied to this day that he was working as an employee of the cia or any government agency , the revelations about his role as a cia contractor has caused distrust of the intelligence community at a time when trust is already not high, whether it's the nsa or cia , america's intelligence apparatus is coming under more fire. in the wake of revelations about robert levinson 's role as a contractor, there's new revelations this morning.

>> cia didn't tell the truth to the congress about mr. levinson . if that's true, you put this on top of the things our intelligence committees didn't know about other activity which is have been revealed by snowden. maybe means we should be examining the oversight role of congress over our different intelligence agencies .

>> reporter: levinson was sent on a rogue mission to iran by a cia handler who supposedly didn't tell her superiors. the lawyer representing levinson 's family said the cia betrayed him.

>> he got caught and the cia abandoned him and left him there.

>> reporter: pressure from the family parked an investigation leading to the firing of jablonski and two other analysts. they paid the family nearly $3 million. they don't know where levinson is.

>> we have no trace of him in iran .

>> reporter: but secretary of state john kerry says the u.s. is actively working with iran to find levinson .

>> i have personally raised the issue not only at the highest level i have been involved with but through other intermediaries.

>> reporter: now it's renewing the focus on other americans detained abroad. like alan gross.

>> should we be questioning the version of the story that the government has been going on what alan gross was doing in cuba?

>> i understand your question and, again, i would point you to what we said about the absolute necessity for alan gross in our view to be released.

>> reporter: now the white house has been very silent on levinson other than deny he was a cia employee but this idea of reforming the intelligence community , the president is sitting on a bunch of potential reforms. he could make announcements on that this week before he heads to hawaii.

>> chuck todd , thank you.