What leaders are saying about Obama's NSA speech

Associated Press Updated: January 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm • Published: January 17, 2014 0

Reaction from lawmakers, privacy groups, foreign leaders, industry and the intelligence community to President Barack Obama's proposals to change the way U.S. intelligence agencies collect information:

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"President Obama's speech today left many crucial questions unanswered. Now is the time for Congress to improve how it executes its constitutional oversight duties, to examine certain signals intelligence collection activities and practices, and to ensure that we are fulfilling our obligation to protect both the security of our nation and the freedom of our citizens." —Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

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"Today President Obama proposed bold and real steps to reform the methods the intelligence community uses to keep us safe. These proposed reforms will go a long way towards putting the imperatives of national security and personal liberty into an appropriate and sustainable balance." —Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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"While I am encouraged the president is addressing the NSA spying program because of pressure from Congress and the American people, I am disappointed in the details. The Fourth Amendment requires an individualized warrant based on probable cause before the government can search phone records and emails. President Obama's announced solution to the NSA spying controversy is the same unconstitutional program with a new configuration." —Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

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"After the long push to rein in overbroad surveillance powers, we are very pleased that the president announced his intent to end the bulk collection of Americans' phone records. Ending this dragnet collection will go a long way toward restoring Americans' constitutional rights and rebuilding the public's trust. Make no mistake, this is a major milestone in our longstanding efforts to reform the National Security Agency's bulk collection program. We also believe that additional surveillance reforms are necessary, and we will continue to push for these reforms in the coming weeks and months." —Joint statement by Democratic Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico

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"The reforms he announced today and those that are under consideration are focused on striking the right balance between making sure we have the tools necessary to conduct intelligence, that we are being as transparent as possible and that we're not violating the civil liberties and privacy of innocent Americans." —Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

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"Obama's speech is an important contribution toward restoring the trust we've lost in our close friend and ally in the past months. ... What's particularly welcome is that in future the same rules will apply to citizens of other states as for Americans." —Philipp Missfelder, a senior lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party

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"Besides the words of the American president, the entire world wants concrete actions of respect for the sovereignty of nations." —Vanessa Grazziotin, a Brazilian lawmaker whose Senate panel is investigating U.S. espionage

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"The president's decision not to end bulk collection and retention of all Americans' data remains highly troubling. The president outlined a process to study the issue further and appears open to alternatives. But the president should end — not mend — the government's collection and retention of all law-abiding Americans' data." —Anthony Romero, American Civil Liberties Union executive director

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"If the ultimate alternative to government collection is mandatory bulk data retention by the phone companies or mandatory bulk handover to a third party, the president should be prepared for a major legislative battle with key members of Congress, the technology industry and the privacy community arrayed against him." —Kevin Bankston of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute

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"The debate about government surveillance programs, and striking the right balance between protecting personal privacy and providing national security, is a healthy one. We will review the proposal and look forward to working with Congress and the administration." —AT&T Inc. spokesman Mark Siegel

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Associated Press writers Stephen Braun, Josh Lederman and Nedra Pickler in Washington, Frank Jordans in Berlin and Stan Lehman in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

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