During a wide-ranging interview Tuesday on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," President Obama defended the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs, arguing that the agency doesn’t target U.S. civilians.
“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” Obama said,“What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. That information is useful.”
The President called the surveillance programs “a critical component to counter-terrorism,” but acknowledged that they’ve “raised a lot of questions for people.”
Obama also touched on the U.S. embassy closures, and the global travel alert, and you can view that portion of the program here. The State Department extended the closure of 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Northern Africa through next weekend. The president said U.S. officials were not overreacting to the potential terror threat.
Here, the discussion covers Vladimir Putin and attending the G20 summit. Obama said he was still planning on attending the G20 in St. Petersburg, despite calls for him to withdraw from several lawmakers.
Obama told Leno that he was disappointed with the Russian government’s decision to grant Edward Snowden asylum, but pointed to areas of recent cooperation, like the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, as evidence the countries can still cooperate on important issues.