In a press conference Friday, President Obama admitted that Americans are right to be concerned about ongoing and recently detailed spying programs initiated in part by the NSA and revealed by leaker Edward Snowden.
During the presser, Obama said that transparency and the validity of such actions are a reasonable concern for Americans, adding that "given the history of abuse by governments, it's right to ask questions about surveillance."
President Obama also took questions, about the NSA, surveillance and potential abuse, and planned reforms to "make the American people more comfortable" with newer surveillance techniques.
At one point, Edward Snowden was mentioned -- and without the inflection, it's difficult to convey Obama's reaction when he said:
"I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot... Mr. Snowden has been charged with 3 felonies, [he should return to the U.S.] & make his case."
In regards to NSA scope, Obama said that the US is "not interested in spying on ordinary people," and repeated several times that he believes all spying programs are operating within the boundaries of extant laws on surveillance. He stressed multiple times, however, that his administration aimed to make Americans more comfortable with the initiative -- using an analogy about Michelle Obama and proving he did the dishes.
"Granted, in the White House I don't do the dishes that much." - President Obama #unimportantpressconferencequotes
— Yasmeen Serhan (@YasmeenSerhan) August 9, 2013
President #Obama: "I am comfortable that the program is not currently being abused." #NSA #Surveillance
— Rima Regas (@Rima_Regas) August 9, 2013
President Obama declined to discuss specific "operational issues."