WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama announced new measures Friday about working with Congress to change the oversight of some of the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance programs following former defense contractor Edward Snowden leaking classified information.
Obama called on reforming the section of the Patriot Act that collects telephone records, working on oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and getting a high-level group of outside experts to review the United States’ surveillance programs.
Obama said all these moves are to help Americans trust the federal government and to make these surveillance programs more transparent.
“America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” Obama said.
During the press conference, Obama delved into his tenuous relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama canceled next month’s meeting in Moscow with Putin after Russia granted temporary asylum to Snowden.
“There’s always been some tension in the U.S.-Russian relationship since the fall of the Soviet Union,” Obama said. “What’s also true is that when President Putin came back into power we saw more rhetoric on the Russian side that’s anti-American.”
Obama said he’s “encouraged Putin to think forward not backwards” but only to “mixed success,” comparing Russia’s recent rhetoric to the Cold War.
Obama also took a jab at Putin’s posture in reference to the media potentially misinterpreting body language during his conversations with Putin.
“He’s got that kind of slouch looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom,” Obama said.
Obama added that Snowden should not be looked at as some type of hero for divulging classified information about the government’s surveillance program.
“I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot,” Obama said.
His comments come as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the current relationship between the U.S. and Russia today is “really terrible.”
“President Obama tried to quote ‘reset relations’ with Russia. We reset and Russia didn’t. And so the question is what’s left in of our interest in dealing with this Russia,” Rice told CBS News.
Rice also said that Obama made the right call to cancel next month’s meeting with Putin.
“The president is absolutely right not to go to Moscow for bilateral conversation with Putin at this time,” Rice said. “There’s nothing to talk about and the slap in the face to the United States of America giving asylum to Edward Snowden, the president absolutely cannot go to a bilateral conversation with Vladimir Putin.”
Obama said he would attend the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, saying it was important for the U.S. to be represented at talks among global economic powers.
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