Obama Discusses Russia, Snowden, Terror Threat At Press Conference [VIDEO]
President Barack Obama says he’s encouraging Russian President Vladimir Putin to, quote, “think forward instead of backwards” in strained relations with the United States.
Obama held a White House news conference Friday. Obama says he realizes relations between the two super powers have been difficult lately. He says progress was being made until Putin regained the Russian presidency. Now Obama says there have been “a number of emerging differences,” including over Syria and human rights.
The White House this week cancelled a planned summit between Obama and Putin next month in Moscow. That’s in part because Russia is refusing to return National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to the U.S. to face charges of leaking national security secrets.
Obama pledges more oversight of NSA surveillance
Obama says he’ll work with Congress to change the oversight of some of the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance programs and name a new panel of outside experts to review technologies.
Specifically, Obama says he wants to work with Congress to insert an opposing voice into arguments before the secret court that approves massive government surveillance efforts. The court currently hears only from Justice Department officials who want the surveillance approved.
The secret court and other surveillance programs have been under scrutiny since NSA leaker Edward Snowden revealed classified programs in June. The government has defended these programs as necessary to prevent terror attacks.
Speaking to reporters, Obama says the government can and must be more transparent in how it conducts surveillance.
Obama: NSA leaker Edward Snowden not a patriot
Obama says National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is not a patriot for revealing widespread government surveillance programs.
Obama says he called for a review of the secret surveillance programs before details of documents Snowden leaked to reporters were publicized in June. He says Snowden’s disclosures prompted a faster and more passionate response than if Obama had just appointed a board to review the policies.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Obama said he wants more oversight of the intelligence community’s surveillance programs to strike a balance between protecting Americans safety and their privacy.
Obama: Al-Qaida can still attack US interests
Obama says the main al-Qaida terrorist group is “on its heels” and “decimated,” but its regional groups are powerful enough to attack U.S. interests.
Obama says the core of al-Qaida is less able to carry out a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11. But he says offshoots like the one in Yemen have the capacity to go after U.S. embassies and businesses around the world.
It was the threat of such an attack that prompted the U.S. government to close 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and North Africa last week.
U.S. intelligence officials had intercepted a message between a top al-Qaida official and his deputy in Yemen about plans for a major terror attack targeting American or other Western sites abroad.
Obama says GOP won’t force government shutdown
Obama says he doesn’t think congressional Republicans will force a government shutdown in this fall’s budget fight.
Obama said at a news conference Friday that the public would not understand a budget confrontation that leads to a cutoff of government services that could weaken the economy’s recovery. He said he assumes Republicans won’t choose that path and that common sense will prevail.
Obama and his Democratic allies favor higher spending for federal agencies next year than Republicans prefer. Many conservatives are also demanding that Congress refuse to finance Obama’s health care overhaul law as part of legislation funding the government for next year.
Financing for federal agencies expires Sept. 30. Congress is expected to pass temporary funding legislation to give the two sides time to seek a deal.
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