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Obama to Europe: US not ‘snooping’ on phone calls, emails

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President Obama on Wednesday sought to reassure Europeans that the United States is not “snooping” into their phone calls and emails.

He defended the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, insisting they are focused only on counterterrorism, weapons of mass
destruction, and cybersecurity.

{mosads}”I can give assurances to the public in Europe and around the world
that we’re not going around snooping at people’s emails or listening to
their phone calls,” Obama told reporters at a press conference in
Stockholm. “What we try to do is target very specific areas of concern.”

The president conceded that the U.S. “has enormous capabilities when
it comes to intelligence” but said the programs were under review to
prevent “situations where we’re gathering info just because we can.”

“With changes in technology, with the growth in our capabilities, if
our attitude is because we can do it, we should go ahead and do it, we
may not be addressing some of the legitimate concerns and dangers that
exist,” Obama said.

The president also reiterated that he had confidence that
domestically, the U.S. did “not surveil the American people or people
within the United States.” He said in instances when “procedures,
because these are human endeavors, have not worked as they should …
we’ve tightened them up.”

But he also stressed that allies who had objected to the U.S.
programs had benefited from their findings — or might use similar
techniques.

“Some of the folks who have been the most offended publicly, we know use the same methods as us,” Obama said.

The president was visiting Stockholm after canceling a previously
planned summit in Moscow ahead of the G-20 summit. The scheduled
bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin were canceled
after the Kremlin announced it would grant temporary asylum to Edward
Snowden, the former Defense contractor who leaked information about the
NSA programs.

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