Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee, leaked classified information detailing the extent of the NSA’s secret phone and Internet surveillance programs to The Guardian.
“These programs connect the dots and have thwarted dozens of terrorist attacks,” Coats said. “It’s irresponsible for the media and others to distort these counter terrorism programs —they are legal.”
The NSA programs are authorized under the US Patriot Act, which Congress passed after Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Coats said the media should “fact check” before “mischaracterizing programs that save lives.”
President Obama has also defended the surveillance programs.