On Friday in a press conference at the White House East Room, President Obama denied that he had “evolved” in his assessment of National Security Agency surveillance programs.
He admitted that “some of these programs I had been critical of when I was in the Senate,” but when he got into office, he said that the two programs at issue “offered valuable intelligence that help us protect the American people, and they’re worth preserving.” He suggested that “bolts” needed to be tightened on the program.
“If you look at the reports, even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden has put forward…what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs,” Obama stated. “What you’re haring about is the prospect these could be abused… Those abuses would be against the law.” He added, “if you are outside of the intelligence community, if you are the ordinary person, and you begin seeing a bunch of headlines saying US, Big Brother… understandably people would be concerned. I would be too if I wasn’t inside the government.”
Obama blamed the media for the “sensationalized” way in which leaks had been reported by the press. “In light of that,” Obama said, “it makes sense for us to go ahead, lay out what exactly we’re doing, have a discussion with Congress, have a discussion with industry…and see, can we do this better?
“The main thing I want to emphasize,” Obama said, is that he didn’t have an interest “in doing anything other than making sure that where we can prevent a terrorist attack, where we can get information ahead of time,” the government do so.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).