WH: Obama not violating privacy; Snowden's whereabouts unknown
June 16th, 2013
04:28 PM ET
10 months ago

WH: Obama not violating privacy; Snowden's whereabouts unknown

(CNN) – President Barack Obama does not feel that he has violated the privacy of any American, his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, confirmed Sunday.

Asked directly if Obama feels that way regarding the government's controversial surveillance programs, McDonough said simply, "He does not."

During his interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," McDonough added the president plans to "talk about this in the days ahead."

McDonough said the president will discuss the need to "find the right balance, especially in this new situation where we find ourselves with all of us reliant on Internet, on e-mail, on texting."

Shortly after the National Security Agency programs were leaked earlier this month, Obama publicly defended the operations that involve storing phone records and collecting information from Internet companies. Obama called them "modest encroachments on privacy" that help prevent terrorist attacks.

McDonough declined to wade into the debate over whether Edward Snowden–the former contractor who leaked the NSA information–is a hero or a traitor. But the White House chief of staff confirmed that he does not know where Snowden went after he checked out of his Hong Kong hotel on Monday.

"I'm sure you'll understand when I tell you I don't want to get involved in any ongoing investigation or any kind of effort that's being undertaken, but I can tell you that I don't know where he is right now."

– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Denis McDonough • NSA • President Obama • White House
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Pete

    "Sir, we found him. He's at..."

    McDonough: "Don't tell me. I have to get onstage and say I don't know."

    June 16, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. Donkey Party

    Snowden diviulged sensitive information to Communist China. Anyone that calls Snowden a "hero" or a "great patriot", is a Communist sympathizer.

    June 16, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  3. John Bond

    Obama is just as bad as Cheney. They both belong in jail with tar and feathers on them.

    June 16, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  4. Tigas

    We need to get rid of the Constitution. It is preventing Obama from achieving his goals.

    June 16, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. Ross

    If he is really smart he should have asked asylum in Russia and be already there. Or else, in South America.

    June 16, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  6. SUNDEVIL85

    He's already in a hole somewhere.

    June 16, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  7. Oh For Pete's Sake!

    The government just released a statement that although they snooped on MILLIONS of people, they only picked out 300 for "special attention" But Obama is STILL saying they didn't invade privacy?
    California is taking theirs to Court for seizing the private records of 10 MILLION private citizens in their state alone!

    And now the Guardian Newspaper in UK says Snowden gave them information that the US government snooped on G20 world leaders a few years ago!!!
    All I can say is that the Guardian is a Leftist, Socialist, LIBERAL rag who went out of their way to lie about Romney when he was in UK prior to Obama's re-election campaign so don't believe a word they say!

    If the Liberal Guardian muddy the waters and help Obama cover up and wriggle out of the NSA......they WILL.

    June 16, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  8. cpc65

    "he does not know where Snowden went after he checked out of his Hong Kong hotel on Monday." – Easy. He's hiding on that half sunken ship in Victoria Harbor that was in the Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun.

    June 16, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  9. loosun

    Snowden's motives? the timing of the leaks (right after news about China's hacking US systems) and running to China (a country well known for human rights abuses) seem very SUSPICIOUS. US adversaries have gained from his leaks and that makes him a TRAITOR. He is most likely a chinese spy.

    June 16, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  10. mdcambridge

    "Modest encroachment" is an admission of guilt; he obviously can't make absolute statements (as the Constitution does clearly), he gives perspective, not facts.

    Whatever happened to "I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom."

    June 16, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  11. Richard

    He said, "I don't know" where he is. He DIDN'T say that Snowden's whereabouts are unknown. It's quite possible that Snowden will never be seen or heard from again, AS IF he just never came out of hiding.

    Everyone would say, "We don't know where he is", but those behind the curtain will know and won't be the ones talking. Techinically, everyone talking will be telling the truth.

    What people DON'T say is often more important than what they DO say.

    Just a thought.

    June 16, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  12. Shane

    What is not being said is that this set a precedent for other countries to do the same to us. China or Russia or North Korea could be monitoring our communications via the internet and be justified. Any country can do this under the grounds of national security. I do not know why we as Americans think we can do what ever we want on a global scale and there will be no ramifications and that everyone is supposed to just accept it. If any other country did this to us and we were made aware of it, we would be up in arms. I get that we need to defend ourselves, but maybe we would have to defend ourselves a bit less if we were not doing things to constantly make the world mad at us.

    June 16, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. anon

    Snoden is a hero, PERIOD. If the government goes after him because he released information that was given two weeks prior in a television interview by someone else American's should get up in arms about it. Those suggesting he shuold have gone through proper channels need to watch interviews from other "whistleblowers" that did go through proper channels... and were imprisoned. Our government is corrupt and criminal.

    June 16, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. Mike

    Why use a secret court if they're not violating people's right. Sound like a police state in the making.

    June 16, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. penguin

    I suppose it would be alright to implant a chip in everyone and follow their every whereabouts. Afterall we have no expectation of privacy when not in our home. Just think how safe that would make us- if someone kidnapped my daughter we would not only know where she was, but would know who was with her. So let's just scrap our privacy (which is not an enumerated right under our Constitution any way) But I feel that the govt knowing the numbers I call is a violation of my privacy and oppose the program

    June 16, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. Thomas

    How much dose the program cost and dose it provide us with security , at the same time maintaining privacy ?

    Most finical institutions that we use on a daily basis keep our information and records. At the same time provide security and privacy. As long as we are abiding the law . The larger problem is when finical institution break the law .

    Bush put this law into effect , congress agreed to it . Has the NSA broken the law ?

    June 16, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  17. USvcks

    The US gov=cyber torrorist.

    June 16, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  18. Liberty or death

    If we're so worried about American lives over American values than why not cancel the 4th of July? The 4th of July travel kills more people than terrorism does!

    June 16, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    That is such a whopper of a lie, it doesn't even merit a response.

    June 16, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  20. Andrew

    Snowden is dead. We don't have proof yet, but we know how our country treats Americans accused of treason and terrorism in foreign countries. The prob blew him away with a drone strike.

    June 16, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. Tanja

    If you want to find Snowden, check in Cheney's old VP bunker.

    June 16, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. maynar39

    Ive expected that he would disappear. Maybe with the aid of the Chinese government in exchange for information?

    June 16, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  23. HenryMiller

    Like the Head Snoop in Chief would admit to political voyeurism?

    June 16, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  24. Former GOP

    .........right before his body is found in Hong Kong..............

    June 16, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. wolf776

    The chinese are probably squeezing snowden like a lemon

    June 16, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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