President Barack Obama should "stop apologizing" for the National Security Agency telephone-intercept program that has "saved thousands of lives," according to Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
Disclosures of the extent of the NSA program have upset politicians from Brasilia to Berlin. European Union leaders said last week they would seek a trans-Atlantic accord on espionage after Der Spiegel magazine reported the NSA targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone and Le Monde newspaper said the agency collected telecommunications data in France.
"The president should stop apologizing, stop being defensive," King said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives -- not just in the United States but also in France and Germany and throughout Europe."
King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the NSA program gathers "valuable intelligence, which helps not just us but also helps the Europeans."
The NSA operations have prompted some Europeans to call for a suspension of talks for a free-trade zone between the European Union and the United States.
Chancellor Merkel, whose country is export-oriented, has rejected those calls.
Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" program, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said "the bigger news story" would be "if the United States intelligence services weren't trying to collect information that would protect U.S. interests both home and abroad."
"We should collect information that's helpful to the United States' interests," Rogers said.
The Michigan lawmaker also said that recent friction with Saudi Arabia "has been developing over the last two years." He cited what he said was a U.S. decision two years ago to stay away from the Syrian conflict and the recent "quick rush to the sweet talk" from Iran on that country's nuclear program.
"Those are critical issues to the Saudis, to the Qataris, to the Jordanians, to others in the Arab League that I think rattled their faith in the administration's ability to protect them in a very dangerous world," Rogers said.
Saudi Arabia refused to accept the membership to the United Nations Security Council it won earlier this month, citing issues including Syria's civil war that it said show the world body is incapable of resolving conflicts.
The council's "style, working mechanisms and double standards" prevent it from ending the turmoil in Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The body has also failed to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear arms programs, it said.