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Obama: Snowden ‘distorted' view of NSA

The disclosures from NSA leaker Edward Snowden have created a “distorted view” of U.S. surveillance and intelligence compared to the rest of the world, President Obama said Friday.

Obama said at a press conference Friday that other countries have been able to claim the high ground on surveillance, when they conduct the same activities Snowden says he wants to root out.

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“We’ve got countries that actually do the things Mr. Snowden says he’s worried about very explicitly — engaging in surveillance of their own citizens, targeting political dissidents, targeting and suppressing the press — who somehow are able to sit on the sidelines and act as if it’s the United States that has problems when it comes to surveillance and intelligence operations,” Obama said.

“That’s a pretty distorted view what’s going on out there,” he said.

Obama argued the United States could have had a public debate about the NSA spying without the damage Snowden’s disclosures have had on U.S. intelligence capabilities.

“I’ve said before I believe this is an important conversation we needed to have,” Obama said. “I’ve also said before that the way in which these disclosures happened have been damaging to the United States, damaging to our intelligence capabilities. And I think that there was a way for us to have this conversation without that damage.”

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