NSA Dragnet 'Saved Lives,' Obama Says

PHOTO: President Barack Obama gives a joint press conference with the German Chancellor, June 19, 2013 at the Chancellery in Berlin.

BERLIN -- President Obama today defended his administration's "narrow" phone and Internet surveillance, saying that "lives have been saved" because of the programs.

"We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information, not just in the United States, but in some cases, right here in Germany," the president told reporters at a joint press conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The president stressed that these programs are supervised by the courts to limit encroachment of privacy. "This is not a situation in which we are rifling through ordinary emails of German citizens or American citizens or French citizens or anybody else. This is not a situation where we go into the Internet and start searching any way we want. This is a circumscribed, narrowed system directed at us being able to protect our people," he said.

Obama admitted that he was critical of the previous administration's surveillance and that he came into office with a "healthy skepticism" about how these programs were structured. "What I have been able to do is examine and scrub how our intelligence services are operating. I'm confident that at this point we have struck the appropriate balance," he said.

Obama and Merkel said they discussed the programs at a bilateral meeting earlier today. Merkel said their conversation helped foster a greater understanding of the programs and their value.

The president reiterated that he welcomes the public debate surrounding surveillance and said he is looking for additional ways to declassify parts of these programs.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Chris Soules and Whitney Bischoff are seen at ABC Studios for Good Morning America on March 10, 2015 in New York.
Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto/Getty Images
PHOTO: Former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner arrives at the Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC Partners, in New York, Sept. 11, 2013.
Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP Photo
PHOTO: The Lamborghini SpA Urus sport-utility concept vehicle is unveiled during a Volkswagen AG event in Beijing, April 22, 2012.
Nelson Ching/Bloomberg/Getty Images
PHOTO: Researchers say that this skull, which shows two fractures believed to be created by blunt force trauma, is the earliest evidence of murder in human history.
Sala N/Arsuaga JL/Pantoja-Perez A/Pablos A/MartiĀ­nez I/Quam RM