President Barack Obama is defending the way the US National Security Agency uses technology to monitor potential security threats.
The president said on Friday he is confident the NSA is not carrying out domestic surveillance.
New documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, a fugitive who is now in Russia, show the breadth of targets placed under surveillance by both American and British spy agencies.
The documents show that more than 60 countries were spied on.
"As important and as necessary as this debate has been, it is also important to keep in mind that this has done unnecessary damage to US intelligence capabilities and US diplomacy," Mr Obama said.
Intelligence chiefs say the disclosures have inflicted significant damage on clandestine operations run by the US against terror groups.
On Wednesday, a White House panel recommended curbing the powers of the NSA. The report said the agency should halt the mass storage of domestic phone records and called for privacy safeguards.