News / USA

Obama Discusses Surveillance Transparency Steps, Putin, al-Qaida

President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013.
President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— U.S. President Barack Obama Friday announced new steps aimed at helping to reassure Americans about government electronic surveillance programs used to protect against terrorism. President Obama also discussed relations with Russia, and threats from al-Qaida and affiliated groups.

Obama announced steps he says will increase transparency and restore public trust in U.S. government surveillance programs.

The issue has been the subject of intense national debate since former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden released details of electronic methods used in the counterterrorism fight.

Watch related video by VOA's Kent Klein:

Obama Calls for Surveillance Reformsi
X
August 10, 2013 1:54 AM
President Barack Obama is calling for reforms in U.S. domestic and foreign surveillance. The president spoke to reporters Friday about spying, relations with Russia, the terrorist threat and immigration reform. VOA White House Correspondent Kent Klein reports.

Obama said he will work with Congress to pursue "appropriate reforms," including greater oversight and transparency, to a program that collects telephone records, which he again called an important tool to disrupt terrorist plots.

He also called for steps to give Americans more confidence in decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, including measures to ensure that privacy and civil liberties concerns are taken into account.

As Obama spoke, the Department of Justice and National Security Agency released documents fulfilling a third step, containing additional information about surveillance programs.  

The president also directed creation of a group of experts to review intelligence and communications technologies, against the backdrop of challenges in preventing new terrorist attacks.

"All these steps designed to ensure that the American people can trust that our efforts are in line with our interests and our values.  And to others around the world, I want to make clear once again, that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people.  Our intelligence is focused above all on finding the information that is necessary to protect our people and in many cases to protect our allies," said President Obama.

Obama also fielded questions about his decision to cancel a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in part because of tensions over Moscow's decision to grant temporary asylum to Snowden.

Saying he does not have a "bad personal relationship" with Putin, Obama cited cooperation with Russia on issues such as Afghanistan, Iran, and nuclear arms reduction.

The president called the latest tensions part of emerging differences, including issues such as Syria and human rights.

"It is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, re-assess where it is that Russia is going, what our core interests are, and calibrate the relationship so that we are doing things that are good for the United States, and hopefully good for Russia as well, but recognizing that there are just going to be some differences and we are not going to be able to completely disguise them," said Obama.

Obama noted that he will still be attending the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg.  He ruled out suggestions of a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to protest anti-gay legislation in Russia.

"One of the things I am really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold, or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes we are seeing there, and if Russia doesn't have gay or lesbian athletes then it would probably make their team weaker," he said.

On the terror threat that forced the temporary closure of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies, Obama was asked if he can still state that al-Qaida's core has been decimated.

The president said the main al-Qaida group that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001 has been "broken apart and is very weak," but that regional groups continue to pose a threat.

"This is an ongoing process.  We are not going to completely eliminate terrorism.  What we can do is weaken it, and strengthen our partnerships in such a way that it does not pose the kind of horrible threat we saw on 9/11," he said.

Obama declined to discuss drone strikes in Yemen, which have dramatically increased in recent weeks.  He referred reporters to information the administration has released about how it makes decisions on the use of lethal force.

The president was also asked about the failure so far to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, in an attack in Benghazi last year.

He said capturing those responsible remains a top priority.

"Anybody who attacks Americans, anybody who kills, tragically, four Americans who were serving us in a very dangerous place, we're going to do everything we can to get those who carried out those attacks," said President Obama.

Obama also defended his administration's implementation of health care reform.  

Asked about Republican threats to shut down the federal government over funding for health care reform,  Obama said he is confident that common sense will prevail.

"That we would precipitate another crisis here in Washington that no economist thinks is a good idea, I am assuming they will not take that path," he said.

Obama and his family depart Saturday for an eight-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard, in the northeastern state of Massachusetts.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ALI BABA from: new york
August 09, 2013 5:01 PM
terrorism incidents is getting worst during Obama administration than George w Bush. the restriction of FBI And CiA has negative impact on counter terrorism. besides the generous support of radical country such as Pakistan and afghisstan. Obama does not understand that terrorist country and terrorist group are connected . it is a failure policy .the more money is giving to Pakistan, Afghanistan ,the more terrorist activity. the more ignore Saudi Arabia and gulf countries role to support terrorism ,the more problem we face .it is time to change the policy. Give cia and fbi the authority to use any means necessary to fight terrorism .stop playing soft ball with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi

In Response

by: pilisugsug from: USA
August 09, 2013 9:33 PM
I have never witness a more incompetent president since Jimmy Carter. This guy has been a zer0 for backbone. Obama's administration; Benghazi fiasco, IRS scandal, security leaks and debt crisis, etc. This is a fiasco. Obama recruits Hollywood stars to endorse his policies Jay Leno included. Do you get the picture?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid