President Barack Obama on Monday declined to discuss reports that he was unaware of National Security Agency monitoring of world leaders, saying he wouldn’t discuss classified information.
“Well, first of all, I’m not confirming a bunch of assumptions that have been made in the press,” Obama said in an interview with Fusion, a network launched Monday by ABC and Univision. “But what I have said is that the national security operations generally, have one purpose, and that is to make sure the American people are safe and that I’m making good decisions, and I’m the final user of all the intelligence that they gather.”
The president noted that the White House gives the NSA “policy direction,” and said that his administration is moving forward with a review of intelligence operations outside the country.
“Internationally there are less constraints on how our intelligence teams operate, but, what I’ve said—and I said actually even before the Snowden leaks—is that it’s important for us to make sure that, as technology develops and expands, and the capacity for intelligence-gathering becomes a lot greater, that we make sure that we’re doing things in the right way and that are reflective of our values,” he said, as quoted by Fusion.
Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Monday that she is “totally opposed” to monitoring foreign leaders and said it was “a big problem” that Obama was not aware of the surveillance. The White House declined to comment on Feinstein’s statement.