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.
    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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.