After more than eight months of stories about controversial surveillance programs overseen by the National Security Agency, President Barack Obama says he’s “frustrated” by Edward Snowden’s leaks and by the work of some journalists who have brought those programs to light.
“I have been frustrated generally about both the Snowden disclosures but also some of the reporting around it,” Obama told People magazine in an exclusive end-of-year interview hitting newsstands Friday.
Obama repeated his administration’s position that some of the initial reports about the scale and scope of the programs were false. “I want to emphasize that for people who live in America, the government is prohibited by law from listening to your phone calls or reading your e-mails without a warrant from a judge,” he said. “Sometimes what we’ve seen and heard makes people feel like Big Brother is watching all the time, and that’s just not the case.”
On Wednesday, the White House released a more than 300-page review of the controversial programs including 46 recommendations to the president to curtail the NSA’s authority and to wind down one program — the collection of a massive database of telephone metadata. Obama has already rejected one policy recommendation: separating command of the National Security Agency from the military’s Cyber Command. The White House says Obama will be reviewing the report and its recommendations over the holidays, and will make a determination about the other policy suggestions by mid-January.