President Obama said he will suggest some possible new ideas for reform to the National Security Agency with the objective of giving Americans an increased sense of confidence in the organization since in the recent past, numerous leaks have revealed some wide ranging surveillance programs being overseen by the United States government.
In an interview with MSNBC, the president said that the NSA actually does an outstanding job with refusing to take part in domestic surveillance and not reading emails of private residents or listening in on people’s phone calls. He went on to say that the agency become more aggressive when dealing with matters outside of United States borders because there are no laws to constrain them. The president says his plan is to have an independent review to examine the current policies. The nation’s chief executive made these remarks in an interview on Thursday with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
The president did not say what reforms may be proposed for the NSA. In recent months, United States allies have been angered by the reports of monitoring on the part of the agency of the telephone conversations of 35 world leaders.
The president made these remarks in the aftermath of a recent report by the Washington Post charging the National Security Agency with the daily gathering of five billion records in an effort to track cellphone locations all over the world. United States officials told reporters that the computer programs used to collect data from cell phones is strictly used for tracking those who are foreign intelligence targets. The same officials said that the programs currently being used are not illegal in any way, form, or fashion.
While not commenting on these reports, the president did say that these leaks, mostly the responsibility of a former government contractor by the name of Edward Snowden, brought to light a great number of issues that were cause for legal concern.
NBC reported that the White House is planning on taking a closer examination of the data collection of the National Security Agency.
The president also said that some of the reports received have been highly sensationalized. He said that while they were looking to reform how the National Security Agency conducts its overseas operations, it was important to realize the importance of the agency’s overall mission. He said there are countries that wish harm to the United States and they often communicate using the same controversial methods. The president said that to his thinking, the government needed to find ways to “be in there” in order to protect the American people in a way that was non-abusive.
President Obama told reporters he wanted it perfectly clear that the NSA was only out to ensure the safety of American citizens. He said they were not interested in what people were emailing or texting and that there is a system of checks and balances, with the legal system and the United States Congress, that is designed to help keep that from taking place. He said the reforms he is proposing for the National Security Agency that will help ensure those processes.
By Rick Hope