TODAY   |  January 17, 2014

NSA expected to continue to collect phone records

President Obama is expected to pass reforms allowing the NSA to continue collecting telephone records with added privacy protections and new restraints on the surveillance of foreign targets. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> after months of criticism over the nsa's spying programs, president obama delivering a major speech today planning to announce big changes. andrea mitchell has the latest on this. andrea, good morning to you.

>> good morning, savannah. the president is expected to find a middle ground today, permitting the nsa to keep collecting telephone records but adding privacy protections and new restraints on foreign targets. today's reforms are partly a response from embarrassing leaks from edward snowden who revealed the u.s. listened in on angela merkel 's cell phone. the president signaled he would order changes.

>> just because we can do something doesn't mean we necessarily should. and the values that we've got as americans are ones that we have to be willing to apply beyond our borders.

>> reporter: the white house is expected to call for privacy safeguards for foreigners, a first. until now such limits only applied to americans. the president is also expected to propose a private advocate for the secret intelligence court. despite objections from the court's judges.

>> that would at least allow the court to hear both sides of the argument in these important cases. and certainly, that would be helpful. but it's probably not a substitute for actually reforming the laws and policies themselves.

>> leading critics want the president to end the massive collection of telephone records now scored by the government.

>> it was necessary to prevent terror attacks to existing authorities would be sufficient to deal with those threats.

>> the president's changes will limit the telephone collection program, which is sure to create a furor with nsa supporters.

>> this is not a rogue agency. this is an agency that's pretty much followed the rules and has a very high level of compliance most corporations wouldn't be enviable of.

>> leave it up to congress, instead, to decide who should take that on before reauthorizing next year. that's a compromise that will only prolong this contentious debate, savannah.

>> andrea mitchell in washington. thank