In a news conference on Friday, President Obama announced reform and increased transparency for the NSA's surveillance programs (Published Sunday, Feb 2, 2014)
(NECN) - In a surprise move, President Obama held a news conference at the White House on Friday to announce a review of the secret NSA surveillance programs revealed by leaker Edward Snowden.
Obama promised both new restrictions on the programs and more disclosure to the public.
"We can and must be more transparent," he said.
As part of the changes, Obama ordered the NSA collection of phone records reviewed and told the NSA oversight court to stop rubber stamping surveillance requests.
The President added that his goal was to gain public trust in the NSA.
"All these steps are designed to ensure that the American people can trust that our efforts are in line with our interests and our values," he said.
These changes are coming on the heels of a possible al-Quaida plot in Yemen that the NSA is getting credit for picking up.
Obama admitted that the review was sparked by Snowden's leaks, but said that the former NSA contractor is no patriot and ought to be prosecuted, not protected by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Obama is refusing to meet with Putin next month after the Russian leader granted Snowden asylum.
Friday's news conference also touched on Obama's latest clashes with Congressional Republicans over the budget, the debt ceiling, sequestration, and health care.
"The one unifying principal in the Republican party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don't have health care," Obama said.
The conference served as a summary of many domestic and foreign issues that are pressing on the verge of the Obama family's vacation to Martha's Vineyard.
Watch the attached video for more.