NBC's Mitchell Disses Cheney to Defend Obama on NSA Snooping

In a report on Monday's NBC Today about new leaks from National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell took a jab at former Vice President Dick Cheney: "Cheney, who helped institute warrantless evesdropping, no court orders required, a policy Congress later rejected in favor of the current surveillance programs." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

The implication from Mitchell seemed to be that the NSA surveillance program under the Bush administration was wrong but that the program under President Obama is fine. She failed to mention Obama's dramatic shift on the issue, having been a harsh critic of such methods under President Bush.

Mitchell hit Cheney while introducing a sound bite of him condemning Snowden on Fox News Sunday: "I think he's a traitor. I think he has committed crimes, in effect, by violating agreements given the position he had."

Noting the controversy surrounding the monitoring of phone records and email accounts, Mitchell declared: "...the debate over the secret programs escalates....Many lawmakers want more privacy protection." A sound bite was included of Democratic Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott: "Once the FBI gets the information, then the question is who can look at it, what can you do with information?"


Here is a full transcript of Mitchell's June 17 report:

7:00AM TEASE

MATT LATER: Breaking overnight, President Obama arrives in Ireland for the G-8 Summit amid a new claim from the NSA leaker that U.S. and British intelligence evesdropped on world leaders at a previous meeting.

7:01AM SEGMENT

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: President Obama touched down in Northern Ireland early this morning and has stepped into yet another delicate diplomatic dance.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama's Summit Showdown; G8 Leaders to Discuss Spying, Syria, & Economy]

LATER: That's right. Just as he's about to meet with fellow G-8 leaders to talk about trade and the economy and Syria, comes the new revelation from Edward Snowden. It could make things a bit awkward.

GUTHRIE: Let's get right to NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, who's covering this for us. Andrea, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Spies and Snowden; New Revelations Show U.S., Brits Spied in 2009]

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning to you, Savannah. Well, apparently Edward Snowden has struck again. In a report today, The Guardian newspaper is revealing documents of high-level spying by the British government, possibly with NSA help, on foreign leaders, including the then-President of Russia.

As today's summit begins in Ireland, yet another disclosure from The Guardian that Great Britain spied on world leaders at two London summits in 2009. One of those reportedly targeted Russia's then-president Medvedev. Over the weekend, protestors outside the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong were demonstrating in support of Snowden, the acknowledged NSA leaker.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [PROTESTOR]: I think at great personal risk he was willing to expose this.

MITCHELL: China is now encouraging support for Snowden, ever since he told a Chinese newspaper last week that the U.S. has hacked into computers there for years. On Fox, Dick Cheney, who helped institute warrantless evesdropping, no court orders required, a policy Congress later rejected in favor of the current surveillance programs.

DICK CHENEY: I think he's a traitor. I think he has committed crimes, in effect, by violating agreements given the position he had.

MITCHELL: Snowden is still believed to be in Hong Kong, although the White House can't find him.

DENIS MCDONOUGH [WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF]: I can tell you that I don't know where he is right now.

MITCHELL: As the search continues, the debate over the secret programs escalates.

MARK UDALL [SEN, D-CO]: It's important that the American public know what's being done in their name.

MIKE ROGERS [REP. R-MI]: It is protecting the United States from terrorists attacks.

MITCHELL: Many lawmakers want more privacy protection.

BOBBY SCOTT [REP. D-VA]: Once the FBI gets the information, then the question is who can look at it, what can you do with information?

MITCHELL: While the administration assesses the damage, this warning from former CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden.

MICHAEL HAYDEN: What I fear Al Qaeda learns about this program is not what we're allowed to do but they learn what we're not allowed to do, and they learn the limits of the program.

MITCHELL: There are unconfirmed reports this morning also that Edward Snowden has applied for asylum. Also today, British officials say they haven't seen enough of the new documents in the latest Guardian leak to comment one way or the other. If true, though, it would not be surprising. NBC News reported years ago that the Clinton administration evesdropped on Japanese trade ministers at a meeting in Miami. And of course when China's President Xi came to California recently he would not stay at the summit retreat Sunnylands, not knowing who would be listening in. Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Andrea Mitchell in Washington, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC