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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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January 17th, 2014
05:04 PM ET

Greenwald on Obama's NSA reforms: Zero evidence that NSA spying stops terrorist plots

Washington (CNN) - Under pressure by last year's classified leaks of U.S. surveillance, President Barack Obama on Friday unveiled new guidance for intelligence-gathering and reforms intended to balance what he called the nation's vital security needs with concerns over privacy and civil liberties.

It is highly unlikely the President would have gone before the American public and ordered changes to these spying programs if it were not for former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details about the program last year.

Snowden is presumably still in temporary asylum in Russia, with felony charges waiting for him back home if he ever sets foot in the U.S. again. The data he stole is still being used to break news; the Guardian newspaper reported Thursday that the NSA is collecting almost 200 million text messages around the globe every day.

Obama argued Friday that the data collected is used to map the communication of terrorists, so law enforcement can quickly identify who they may be in contact with.

"(Obama's) own White House panel, as well as a federal court judge ... both said there is zero evidence – zero – that this metadata program is actually effective in stopping any terrorist plots," said investigative journalist with First Look Media Glenn Greenwald, and author of  the forthcoming "No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State." Greenwald was the first to use information given to him by Snowden to break stories of NSA surveillance.

The President also noted that it is possible Americans may regret weakening the NSA's power if something terrible happens.

"This is just fear mongering," said Greenwald. "If you're a leader, you don't govern in fear."

For more of our interview with Glenn Greenwald, check out the video above.

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