"As far as getting him back here, he needs to look an American jury in the eye and explain why he has disclosed sources and methods that are going to put American lives in danger," said Sen. Chambliss. “We know now that because of his disclosure that the terrorists, the bad guys around the world, are taking some different tactics, and they know a little bit more about how we're gathering information on them.”
Critics of what Snowden’s supporters call legitimate whistle-blowing on an intrusive and possibly illegal spy program got some ammunition for their side of the argument over the weekend.
Top US intelligence officials told the Associated Press Saturday that information gleaned from two controversial data-collection programs run by the NSA – collecting metadata on phone records and on Internet traffic – thwarted potential terrorist plots in the US and more than 20 other countries, and that gathered data is destroyed every five years.
The officials offered more detail on how the phone records program helped the NSA stop a 2009 al-Qaeda plot to blow up New York City subways, the AP reported. They say the program helped them track a co-conspirator of al-Qaeda operative Najibullah Zazi – though it's not clear why the FBI needed the NSA to investigate Zazi's phone records because the FBI would have had the authority to gather records of Zazi's phone calls after identifying him as a suspect, rather than relying on the sweeping collection program.
In any case, according to these officials, last year, fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked against the database of millions of US phone records gathered daily by the NSA in one of the programs, the intelligence officials said in arguing that the programs are far less sweeping than their detractors allege.