Critics who have compared President Barack Obama’s stance on government surveillance to that of hawkish former Vice President Dick Cheney are missing his insistence on proper systematic balances, Obama said in an interview that aired Monday.
Defending at length the recently revealed government programs that gather information about phone calls and Internet usage, Obama said his focus has always been on allowing information to be gathered while ensuring necessary oversight.
“Some people say, ‘Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney.’” Obama told PBS’ Charlie Rose. “Dick Cheney sometimes says, ‘Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel.’ My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances?”
Obama’s administration has faced a litany of questions since the disclosure of government programs that allow the National Security Agency to collect millions of records from U.S. telecommunications firms and Internet companies in the name of preventing terrorism. The source of the information, former CIA employee Edward Snowden, said he was moved to leak the top-secret documents because he felt the government was far overreaching its constitutional bounds in collecting the data.