Barack Obama

Obama To Allied Leaders: I'll Call if I Want To Know What You're Thinking


Credit:Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/wikimedia

Today, President Obama gave his much-anticipated speech on NSA reforms.

Unsurprisingly, Obama mentioned the spying on foreign leaders

From the speech:

Let me now turn to the separate set of concerns that have been raised overseas and focus on America's approach to intelligence collection abroad. As I've indicated, the United States has unique responsibilities when it comes to intelligence collection. Our capabilities help protect not only our nation but our friends and our allies as well.

But our efforts will only be effective if ordinary citizens in other countries have confidence that the United States respects their privacy too. And the leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to know what they think about an issue I'll pick up the phone and call them rather than turning to surveillance.

Obama went on to say, 

The bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security and that we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures.

This applies to foreign leaders as well. Given the understandable attention that this issue has received, I've made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies.

These statements may come as a surprise to German Chancellor Angela Merkel considering that Obama reportedly approved the tapping of her phone. Is there a reason Obama didn't feel like he could "pick up the phone" to speak to her before Snowden's revelations were published? Unsurprisingly, the revelations relating to American snooping on German officials have soured U.S.-German relationship worse than the most recent war in Iraq did.  

More from on the NSA here

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  1. …”The bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security”….

    I wish that were true of US citizens.

  2. We will appoint a senior official at the White House to implement the new privacy safeguards that I’ve announced today.

    You got to be kidding me.

    1. Privacy Czar, just as predicted.

      1. Who will secretly decide after reviewing secret information how the government will secretly violate all of our rights.

        1. Lighten up, PL: Obama said secrecy will terminate after a fixed time unless the government determines otherwise.

          1. My president, some hotshot. Ancient Chinese secret–we use Calgon!

  3. “Angie? Hi, this is Barry. I noticed that you have really big tits. I like that. I mean, you’re not hot or anything, but how big are they? What? No, you’d better tell me, or the NSA will.”

    1. OT here, but RE this morning’s discussion about Mars’ weak magnetic field:

      The answer to this is the same as the answer to every problem: get high up in the gravity well with a big rock and drop it precisely.

      1. Giant rocks are the solution to all problems. All of them.

        1. More precisely, giant rocks from space.

          1. Yes, not much point to a giant rock not moving at least ten kilometers/second.

      2. To give it a magnetic field? No. Find a few NiFe rocks drag them into Mars orbit and magnetize them. That’s how you solve Mars’ magnetosphere problem. You only need about 1 Oe to be effective here on Earth. It would be even more effective at the orbit of Mars.

  4. I heard about this guy, walked into a federal bank with a portable phone, handed the phone to the teller, the guy on the other end of the phone said: “We got this guy’s little girl, and if you don’t give him all your money, we’re gonna kill ‘er.”

    And then I’ll tell you what to think.

    1. WTF copy/paste?

      1. I’m glad you have approximately the same question that I do.

  5. Ring ring…

    “Hello, Angela, just calling to see how you’re doing.”

    “Hello, Mr. President. I’m glad you called, because I was wondering…”

    “About the upcoming EU summit?”

    “Uh, yes, we’re going to be considering…”

    “The cheese duties, yes, I know.”

    “And we’re willing to offer…”

    “Yes, a compromise involving camombert, I know.”

  6. could he miss the point any further if actually tried to do so?

    1. Oh, I think he’s trying to miss the point all right.

    2. When Bush missed the point, it was because he’s a stupid hick.

      When Obama misses the point it’s because he’s so smart you don’t even know the point.

      Ivy leaguers.

  7. Obama: “After all, the folks at NSA and other intelligence agencies are our neighbors. They’re our friends and family.”

    That a yet another lie.

    I’d never knowingly befriend anyone who worked for the NSA and would probably disown a relative who did so.

  8. Will he call if he wants to know the alt-text?

  9. Is he now going to call the 300+ million Americans he has spied on?

  10. “Obama To Allied Leaders: I’ll Listen to Your Calls if I Want To Know What You’re Thinking”


  11. As a policy wonk – it is encouraging to hear that there are policies and procedures being tweaked to address ongoing privacy concerns of citizens.

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