Following last Friday’s speech on controversial US intelligence programs, President Obama appeared on the German television show “Heute” for an interview with journalist Claus Kleber.
An EU Draft Resolution issued January 8 called for much stronger measures to end mass surveillance and Kleber opened the interview with a comment about the considerable gap between the EU and US positions.
|"I have to say that the initial responses to your speech in Germany have been skeptical, guarded, all the way to disappointed, even from sources who are normally very pro-American. They expected more."
|"I’m a bit rushed because I feel that you are not getting to a point."
|“And so what I can say is: As long as I’m president of the United States, the chancellor of Germany will not have to worry about this.”
|"I’m not going to comment on country by country."
When the President talked about the bulk collection of telephone data, he seemed out of step with what he said in the speech he gave to Americans.
|Obama: One of the issues that I discussed for example today, the 215 program of telephone metadata, that I’ve determined we will end government collection of this data. But this is data that does not include names, does not include content.
Kleber: Understood. But still, the metadata of people in Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, are somewhere stored where, with a couple of judicial steps, American authorities, your agencies have access to. That will remain.
Obama: Well, I have to be careful about what details I can and cannot discuss here. But I think that it is absolutely true that US intelligence has a series of capabilities that allow us to access digital information, not just here in the United States but around the world.
The future collection and storage of telephone metadata is not at all clear when the interview and the speech are compared.
“Government collection” will be ended and replaced with “a new approach.” A third party will retain the bulk records, with government accessing information as needed. The details cannot be discussed. This is the same charade American teenagers use when they’re holding contraband and they get caught by their parents.
Here’s the relevant part of the speech.
On January 21, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, announced the President’s upcoming promotional tour.
|"The President will travel to Brussels on March 26 for a U.S.-EU Summit with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission."