'This Week': Spying Scramble

ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross on the NSA surveillance controversy.
3:00 | 12/22/13

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Transcript for 'This Week': Spying Scramble
Good morning and welcome to "this week." Spy scramble. Just because the president can do something, doesn't necessarily mean we should. The nsa surveillance program hit hard this week. By experts and the court. The president respond by scraping the collection of your phone records? Should he grant amnesty to edward snowden? This morning, both sides of this heated debate. Plus -- has this been the worst year of the presidency? After a tough year, can obama shake his second-term slump? Will the least productive congress ever do better in 2014? And -- gross sexual immorality. Should shocking words from "duck dynasty's" commander sink the superhit? Plus, our new year's predictions, right here, this sunday morning. Hello, again, a whole lot to get to this sunday morning before christmas. And we begin with the latest on the biggest security breach in u.S. History, the surveillance program revealed by edward snowden, under fire on two fronts this week. Federal judge signalling that he would strike it down. The president's handpicked panel of experts should stop picking up phone records of american people. At the press conference, president obama seemed to agree. We'll take on that debate. First, the backstory from chief investigative correspondent brian ross. Reporter: George, the report by the president's handpicked panel was another devastating blow for the nsa and its most controversial program. Collecting the phone records of every american who owns a phone. The nsa says its collection of billions of phone records from american citizens has helped to stop terror attacks, a claim often repeated by the president himself. As I have said, this program is an important tool in our efforts to disrupt terrorist plots. Reporter: When they delivered the report this week, including former counterterrorism official now abc news consultant, richard clarke, the 300-page document was a strong repudiation of what the nsa and the president have said, calling for the program to be shut down. We think the so-called metadata program has not been essential -- has not contributed significantly to the prevention of terrorist attacks in the united states or abroad. Reporter: The report said that, while it found no evidence of actual abuse by the nsa, there is a lurking danger of abuse in a program that does not even make the country safer. This is only going to work if the american people have confidence and trust. Reporter: The white house panel's report comes just days after a federal judge in washington ruled that the phone collection record is unconstitutional. The message to the nsa is now coming from every branch of government, from every corner of our nation, nsa, you've gone too far. Reporter: The white house panel also dealt with the nsa eavesdropping on the united nations and friendly foreign leaders, including angela merkel. In the future saying it should require high level of scrutiny. Most of the time there's absolutely no reason to engage in wiretapping our friends. Reporter: The review panel was formed in the wake of former nsa contractor edward snowden and his supporters now say this week's report justifies his actions. It's a complete vindication of everything he said. Reporter: Panel members strongly disagreed with that. What mr. Snowden did was treason, was high crimes, and there is nothing in what we say that justifies what he did. Of the panel's 46 recommendations, the president has already rejected one of them, that a civilian, not someone from the military, should run the nsa. In his news conference at the end of the week, president obama said that he'll take the next few weeks to review his panel's ideas and then make some firm decisions about programs, many of which he once so championed.

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