CNET News Video: Obama: US not spying on ordinary people (video)
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CNET News Video: Obama: US not spying on ordinary people (video)

4:08 /

In a speech outlining his proposals to reform the NSA's controversial phone-records program, President Obama tries to reassure Americans and foreign governments -- and makes another dig at Edward Snowden.

It is hard to overstate the transformation America's Intelligence Community had to go through after 911. Our agency suddenly needed to do far more than the traditional mission of monitoring hostile powers and gathering information for policymakers. Instead, they were now asked to identify and target plotters in some remote parts of the world and to anticipate the actions of networks that by their very nature cannot be easily penetrated with spies or informants. And it is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the men and women of our intelligence community that over the past decade, we've made enormous thrives in fulfilling this mission, in an extraordinary difficult job, one in which actions are second guest. Success is unreported, and failure can be catastrophic. The men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people. They're not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails. When mistakes are made which is inevitable in any large and complicated human enterprise, they correct those mistakes. Given the fact of an open investigation, and I'm not gonna dwell on Mr. Snowden actions or his motivations. I will say that, our nation's defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation's secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it in their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe or conduct foreign policy. Moreover, the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come. Now, the reforms that I'm proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected. Even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools that they need to keep us safe. On all these issues, I'm open to working with Congress to ensure they rebuild a broad consensus for how to move forward and I'm confident that we can shape an approach that meets our security needs while upholding the civil liberties of every American. The bottom line is that, people around the world regardless of their nationality should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't run our national security. We will take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures. This applies to foreign leaders as well. Given the understandable attention that this issue received, I made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies. Now let me be clear our-- our intelligence will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments as opposed to ordinary citizens around the world. In the same way that the intelligence services of every other nation does. We will not apologize simply because our services maybe more effective. But, heads of state and government with whom we work closely and on whose cooperation we depend should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners. And the chain is not ordered, you just left.
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