WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday pledged measures to strengthen oversight and transparency of the National Security Agency (NSA)'s classified surveillance programs following two months of controversies.
"It's not enough for me as president to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well," said Obama at a White House press conference.
SOME CHANGES, MORE OVERSIGHT
Obama unveiled four measures as part of the efforts to stem the controversies over the surveillance programs, which have been secretly conducted for years and revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in June.
"But given the scale of this program, I understand the concerns of those who would worry that it could be subject to abuse," said Obama.
The president said that he would work with Congress to pursue " appropriate reforms" to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the government to collect phone call records.
He will also work with the lawmakers to "improve the public's confidence in the oversight" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which grants government agencies the warrants to scoop data from individuals and companies.
The president also vowed to make public more information about the surveillance programs, and to form a high-level group of outside experts to review the "entire intelligence and communications technologies."
"We can take steps to put in place greater oversight, greater transparency, and constraints on the use of this authority," he stressed.
Obama's move came ahead of his week-long summer vacation. The announcement of the new measures is the first of its kind coming in response to the backlash over Snowden's leaks over two months ago.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and is a defender of the NSA programs, also announced on Friday the committee will hold a series of hearings in the fall to review "all intelligence data-collection programs involving Americans."
SAME DEFENSE, BETTER PLACE?
However, Obama's new proposals also showed he had no intention to stop or cancel the controversial spying programs which have sparked fierce debate at home and abroad.
As he and senior intelligence officials have claimed before, Obama once again defended the legitimacy of the NSA programs and their role in thwarting terrorist plots, saying they "provided valuable intelligence" and were "worth preserving."
"As I've said, this program is an important tool in our effort to disrupt terrorist plots, and it does not allow the government to listen to any phone calls without a warrant," said Obama.
He said he had called for a thorough review of the surveillance operations even before Snowden made the leaks.
"My preference, and I think the American people's preference, would have been for a lawful, orderly examination of these laws - a thoughtful fact-based debate that would then lead us to a better place," said Obama.
When asked about the leaker, Obama said, "I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot."
He called on Snowden, who has been charged by the U.S. federal authorities with espionage and granted one-year asylum by Russia, to return to the country and face trial.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday announced a host of measures to strengthen oversight and transparency of the country's controversial surveillance program, aiming to ease public concerns and uneasiness.
But experts here say that his promises are of no structural change to the program. Full story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday argued for a reassessment and calibration of the relationship with Russia in light of its chilly status, as he had canceled a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Addressing a press conference at the White House, Obama described as "mixed success" his dealings with Russia since he took office in January 2009.Full story
MOSCOW, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Former U.S. National Security Agency worker Edward Snowden is free to travel within the Russian territory wherever he wants to, Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) said Friday.
"In line with the law, he has a right to travel within territory of the Russian Federation and a right to work with the exception of the government services," head of the Moscow regional FMS division Oleg Molodiyevsky told reporters.Full story