Assange blasts Obama's NSA speech: 'Lies'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged that President Obama lied in his Friday speech about the National Security Agency.

Obama announced several proposals to change how the NSA collects surveillance on Americans and foreign governments. Assange was interviewed on CNN after the speech. 

“We heard a lot of lies in this speech by Obama,” Assange said. “I think it’s embarrassing for a head of state to go on like that for 45 minutes and say almost nothing.” 

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Obama proposed a number of changes to the NSA, including an end to the metadata collection program as it currently exists, the creation of a panel of public advocates on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), and imposing heavier scrutiny on how the U.S. monitors communications abroad.

Assange said the speech wouldn’t have happened without the leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who disclosed the details of these programs. Obama was “dragged, kicking and screaming” to the address, Assange said. 

“Although those national whistle blowers have forced this debate, this president has been dragged, kicking and screaming to today’s address. He is being very reluctant to make any concrete reforms,” he said. “Unfortunately today we also see very few concrete reforms.”

Obama is just pushing the debate further down the road, Assange said, by delegating some of these decisions to a divided Congress and panels of lawyers. 

Assange’s WikiLeaks organization first came to light when it began publishing classified U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010. Assange helped Snowden seek temporary asylum in Russia last summer.