If they can't defend the programs with straightforward language it means they simply aren't being straightforward with us.
I just don't even know what to say to this. There is no way to have a discussion if they are going to redefine words arbitrarily.
"Well, as James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told Andrea Mitchell of NBC, the N.S.A. uses the word “acquire” only when it pulls information out of its gigantic database of communications and not when it first intercepts and stores the information." 
No attempts to actually clarify what they are up to.
For example, do Google allow NSA to run computer code on google's servers? More specific, do NSA supply database queries when demanding data? Do NSA ever provide Google with tracking code like JS or links to NSA webbugs (1px imgs) that Google later put in targeted ads? Do Google ever provide physical (or remote) access to servers, hard drives (like backups) or network devices to NSA?
Either of those would to me be equivalent with "direct access", while I can perfectly see how Google would not define it as such.
We need a real external investigation done into this (and even that needs to be done by very credible people), and then we'll see how it all goes. You can't be naive enough to trust anything the NSA or the administration is saying now.
Private investigators? Will multi-layered bureaucracy let any outsider to just go in and look into papers? Or you suggest going to congress and mr. president to ask permission to let you investigate? (Basically, asking the same gov. guys you never trust.)
Here's suggestion: I don't want to play this game. Let NSA do whatever they want to do, but I don't want to pay for this. Let me not pay my taxes and use different currency, so they cannot tax me by inflating it. Then we'll see if they'll have enough funds to continue doing what they are up to.
The real fix is total removal of any moral justification for the government. Give voluntarily to those who deserve it (in your view) and expose violence when they try to extract money from you by force (explicitly via taxation or implicitly via inflation). When people see the "gun in the room", they'll be more informed about how shit like NSA happens to them and how to actually prevent it.
However, if you in favor of some government policy, I respect you decision and will never violently prevent you from sponsoring it. But will you give me the same respect if I disagree with you and not violently prevent me from withdrawing my participation? In other words, will you blame or at least not justify a violent action against me if I decide to not pay for some government programs I dislike?
Btw, slavery once was legal too. It must be covered by your theory of justice.
It is interesting that you mention slavery. No amount of bleeting about "natural rights" will keep armed people from enslaving you, as has happened countless times throughout history. Your "right" to freedom is nothing more or less than your agreement with a sufficiently large group of other people that they will defend you against people trying to enslave you. The history of slavery in the U.S. actually exemplifies this. The 13th amendment didn't end slavery. Constitutional recognition of peoples' inherent right to freedom didn't end slavery. Union soldiers burning down southern cities ended slavery.
So please explain what you meant by your original comment.
You are advocating a particular definition of ownership: ownership that gives you the right to occupy soil independent of any compact with some other group of people.
[EDITED:] Your questions aren't especially helpful. "Legitimate" is merely a label. It's meaningful only insofar as it influences human behavior.
No doubt some so-called Native Americans still view the current "ownership" of the North American landmass as illegitimate and unjust. But you'd be hard-pressed to find many others whose behavior has been (or will be) the least bit affected by that view.
As to a theory of property rights, and for that matter a theory of justice, try this:
* A right is no more and no less than a personal desire that -- in a time period that's meaningful to you -- you can effectively cause to be enforced, either alone or in collaboration with others whom you can persuade to share that particular desire; and
* Justice should be regarded as consisting of scalable, sustainable happiness -- but unfortunately (1) many people regard justice as more or less identically equal to what they want at any given moment, and (2) we operate in a not-inconsiderable amount of ignorance as to what scalable, sustainable happiness entails. (In that regard, John Rawls's famous "veil of ignorance," from his A Theory of Justice, can be a useful decision-making tool.)
What is "legitimate" in one place can very well be illegitimate in another. And it has nothing to do with mine or yours personal ethics.
My one and only argument is a response to a justification of violence. When a man comes to me and says "You must serve in russian army or I will kick into a jail", it's usually covered with some theory that must justify violence in the eyes of people around. Normally, people wouldn't like any government activity if it was openly violent without any justification. My entire point of debates here on HN is to uncover that violence. When people really see the gun, they may take more informed decisions about their own ethical views.
I will not debate with a person who openly tells me "I will kill you because I can". I'll just run away or call for help. But if the person tries to bullshit me why he has a right to do so, I'd love to see if he can prove his wonderful theory (and I can be as sarcastic as I like because I am the last person here who could hurt anyone because of disagreement because I consistently advocate peace and voluntarism over violent coercion).
Example: NSA does something that people do not like. I try to point out that government forces you to pay for those activities and uses the same force to limit your ability to control these things. It does not matter if you like or dislike the government. You should realise what is it and how it works. My humble suggestion is to consider withdrawing your participation and pay only for something you like. Then, you'd either have to openly advocate for violent extraction of money from everyone including me, into my face, or reconsider your political views.
He's talking about himself of course, the NSA is premised upon the exact opposite.