press trust of india
WASHINGTON, 18 JUNE: President Barack Obama, under attack for allowing the controversial surveillance programme, has defended the policy by saying the covert operations were “transparent” and had disrupted multiple terrorist plots not just in the USA but overseas.
“The one thing people should understand about all these programmes, though, is they have disrupted plots, not just here in the United States but overseas as well,” he said.
He added that while other factors were at work, “we are increasing our chances of preventing a catastrophe like that through these programmes”.
“My job is both to protect the American people and to protect the American way of life, which includes our privacy. And so every programme that we engage in, what I’ve said is ‘Let’s examine and make sure that we’re making the right tradeoffs’,” Mr Obama told the popular “Charlie Rose” show on PBS channel.
“What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a US person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your e-mails and have not,” Mr Obama said in his interview, which took place on Father’s Day, just hours before the First Family departed for Belfast for the G8 summit. Edward Snowden, an ex-National Security Agency (NSA) systems analyst contractor, last week leaked documents revealing Obama administration’s spying programmes that gather phone records of millions of Americans and track the use of US-based Internet servers by foreigners.
Obama has strongly defended the effectiveness of the surveillance programmes in heading off threats to the USA.
Asserting that the programme is “transparent”, Mr Obama said he is not Dick Cheney. “My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances?” he said.