By Aruna Viswanatha and Anna Yukhananov

WASHINGTON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Two Republican congressmen on Sunday defended Washington's surveillance programs abroad in reaction to protests from allies, after the wide scope of the eavesdropping was revealed this year by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, said much of the public information on those efforts, including allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency had spied on millions of French citizens, was misguided.

"They are seeing three or four pieces of a thousand-piece puzzle and trying to come to a conclusion," he said on CNN's "State of the Nation" program.

The media was given one slide, which included the word "France" on it, Rogers said, which "started a huge amount of discussion about Americans collecting phone calls in France with French citizens."

"That is 100 percent wrong," he said. The slide referred to a counter-terrorism program that had nothing to do with French citizens, he said.

Instead, Rogers said, European authorities don't have enough oversight of their intelligence services. He suggested that the new revelations were not surprises to European intelligence agencies, but only to the governments for which they work.

Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," said: "The president should stop apologizing, stop being defensive.

"The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives, not just in the United States but also in France and Germany and throughout Europe. The French are some ones to talk; the fact is, they've carried out spying operations against the United States, both the government and industry. As far as Germany, that's where the Hamburg plot began, which led to 9/11. They've had dealings with Iran and Iraq, North Korea ..."


'VALUABLE INTELLIGENCE'

"We're not doing this for the fun of it," King said. "This is to gather valuable intelligence which helps not just us but also helps the Europeans."

On Saturday, a mixed group of protesters marched on Capitol Hill in Washington to protest the government's online surveillance programs.

People carried signs reading: "Stop Mass Spying," "Thank you, Edward Snowden" and "Unplug Big Brother" as they gathered to demonstrate against the online surveillance by the NSA.

Estimates varied on the size of the march, with organizers saying more than 2,000 attended.

The march attracted protesters from both ends of the political spectrum as liberal privacy advocates walked alongside members of the conservative Tea Party movement in opposition to what they say is unlawful government spying on Americans.

The groups have been urging Congress to reform the legal framework supporting the NSA's secretive online data gathering since Snowden's disclosure of classified information about the programs that are designed to gather intelligence about potential foreign threats.

The Obama administration and many lawmakers have defended the NSA programs as crucial in protecting U.S. national security and helping thwart past militant plots. They have also said the programs are carefully overseen by Congress and the courts.

"Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong," Snowden said in a statement before Saturday's rally. Wanted in the United States on espionage charges, he is now in temporary asylum in Russia.

Snowden's latest disclosures showed the United States may have tapped the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding to the growing outrage against U.S. data-gathering practices abroad and prompting a phone call between Merkel and President Barack Obama. (Additional reporting by Alina Selyukh and Greg Savoy. Writing by Eric Walsh; editing by Christopher Wilson)

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the court order for telephone records was part of a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130606/us-nsa-phone-records-feinstein/" target="_blank">the Associated Press reported</a>. "It’s called protecting America," Feinstein said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

  • Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)

    Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank">said</a> "the administration owes the American public an explanation of what authorities it thinks it has."

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) thought everyone "should just calm down." "Right now I think everyone should just calm down and understand this isn't anything that's brand new," Reid <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank">said</a>.

  • Former Vice President Al Gore

  • Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

    Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in a statement: "This type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans’ privacy."

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/lindsey-graham-nsa_n_3396223.html?1370532449" target="_blank">"glad" the NSA was collecting phone records. </a> "I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States," Graham said in an interview on "Fox and Friends."

  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)

    Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) also claimed that reports of the NSA collecting phone records was "nothing particularly new." "Every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this," Chambliss<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank"> said</a>. "And to my knowledge we have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint relative to the gathering of this information."

  • Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

    Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) found the NSA collecting phone records <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank">"troubling."</a> "The fact that all of our calls are being gathered in that way -- ordinary citizens throughout America -- to me is troubling and there may be some explanation, but certainly we all as citizens are owed that, and we're going to be demanding that," Corker <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/verizon-phone-records-nsa_n_3397058.html?utm_hp_ref=politics" target="_blank">said</a>.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)