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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."  
Kleber was polite and deferential as he repeatedly challenged and interrupted Obama’s trademark lengthy soliloquies.  Halfway through the interview, with time running out, Kleber was compelled to interject in the nicest possible way:  
"I’m a bit rushed because I feel that you are not getting to a point."
Although Obama spoke about rebuilding trust between the US and its European allies, he doesn’t seem to notice how his own words make matters worse. When asked about intelligence gathered by spying on foreign leaders, he offered consolation with an expiration date at the end of his term.
“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.”
Kleber asked Obama to explain the principles behind spying on foreign leaders of NATO countries and he used Turkey as an example.  Obama’s response:
"I’m not going to comment on country by country."
Twice during the interview the President spoke about something that may come to be known as the Obama Doctrine: the US responsibility to protect its friends and allies who have no say in the matter except a word of gratitude.

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.

Here’s the full interview. It was conducted in English and overdubbed with voice translators for ZDF’s German audience. This is the undubbed version ZDF posted on its website.  A transcript of the interview   is also available.  



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.




The full transcript is posted on the White House website.

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."
The EU Draft Resolution is tentatively scheduled for a vote in the Parliament on March 11. It’s largely up to Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, to champion the proposed “European Digital Habeus Corpus for Protecting Privacy.” Here’s what she tweeted after Obama’s speech along with a couple of amusing replies.


Tweet sent by Viviane Reding regarding Obama speech on mass surveillance.

Further information about the President's interview is available on ZDF's website including Claus Kleber's comments, in German.
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Comment Preferences

  •  We need to rein in the intel gathering. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, Crider

    Yet we still need the capability to prevent attacks (if that's what it's used for).

    Much of the mistrust stems from that unfortunate incident in Berlin a couple years ago.

     photo 1381366_10201456630870705_1044603447_n_zps89937509.jpg

    .

    We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can ~ Will Rogers

    by Gordon20024 on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 03:50:25 PM PST

  •  No president is going to disclose (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    specifics on national security policies, which includes information-gathering. It just ain't gonna happen.

    Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

    by Bob Love on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 05:33:53 PM PST

    •  The interview is almost kind of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dfarrah, Mark Lippman, lostinamerica

      beside the point you're making here. In your point, what actually matters at the end of the day is this:

      The EU Draft Resolution is tentatively scheduled for a vote in the Parliament on March 11. It’s largely up to Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, to champion the proposed “European Digital Habeus Corpus for Protecting Privacy.”
      It's interesting to note your reaction, which is, in so many words, that "the interviewer had bad expectations" if they expected specifics on national security from the President. Well yes, of course they did! And this diary is about "the interview". But even so, you found that more worthy of comment than Commissioner Reding's tweet? Seems like a misplaced priority if your biggest concern is "security", considering she doesn't exactly sound convinced.

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 06:00:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The EU and US standardized practices in law (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lunachickie

        enforcement, banking, finance, and privacy and they set up electronic systems to make it easy to do business while being on the lookout for bad guys. They made the US & EU one big playground with nowhere for terrorists and money launderers to hide. At least that was the story.

        Collecting the private information of 509 million people in Europe isn't consistent with the intentions that were stated. It's a big deal.

        There is no existence without doubt.

        by Mark Lippman on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:15:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Turkey question was pointless (0+ / 0-)

        to ask any president. I did not respond to every point in the diary, just this exchange:

        Kleber asked Obama to explain the principles behind spying on foreign leaders of NATO countries and he used Turkey as an example.  Obama’s response:
        "I’m not going to comment on country by country."

        Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

        by Bob Love on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:17:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It wasn't a pointless question. It was asked (0+ / 0-)

          because Obama repeatedly sidestepped the question before that about the collection of telephone metadata.

          It's normal and natural for people in Germany to want to know if their information will still be collected --- specifically telephone metadata. We all want to know that,

          It was a Yes/No question and Kleber knew the answer was Yes, but the data will be stored by a third party  . . .  Kleber was expecting an answer consistent with the proposal outlined in the President's speech.

          But the President's first stab at answering sounded like a No which would be misleading to the audience in Germany who might not know what was said in the speech. It was Kleber who gently changed the President's answer to Yes.

          The sequence that followed was an attempt to keep the President on track by getting increasing specific. Kleber narrowed in on surveillance of Merkel's phone. Again, a normal and natural curiosity for Germans. Obama evaded that by saying I like her, I trust her, she's my friend . . . all bets are off come 1/21/2017.  

          (Maybe you don't know that Germany has assumed a bigger and bigger role in the overall NATO military integration and in Afghanistan. They're a big part of the post-2014 plan.)

          Looking for some guiding principle that might be used when deciding whether to spy on foreign leaders who head countries that are part of a military alliance, Kleber asked about Turkey. He wanted something with a little more gravity than "I like my friends."  

          Of course the President can't treat national security or diplomacy like subjects for casual gossiping about foreign leaders. He has to be discreet. There are any number of things he could have said to patch things up but he left a festering wound instead.

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 04:31:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Are you referring to something specific in the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lostinamerica, Bob Love

      diary?  In general, your comment would be a true statement.

      The draft resolution I wrote about in a diary before this one explains the EU position. There are dozens of 'whereas' statements that cite the existing framework of 'Umbrella agreements' between the US & EU requiring both to cooperate for law enforcement.  The Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) is one example.

      Besides adopting consistent standards and practices on both sides of the Atlantic, other agreements limited the transfer of personal data for commercial purposes to protect privacy.

      The EU conducted a six-month investigation and found evidence that the US didn't abide by the terms of the cooperative Umbrella agreements. The Treasury Dept refused to answer certain questions.

      Now you may cite national security privilege but the data that has been collected, stored, and analyzed doesn't pertain to national security. Anything that the US wanted for national security could have been obtained through the existing framework of agreements.

      The agreements include escape clauses that allow either side to unilaterally terminate. The draft resolution begins the termination process.  Maybe it's no big deal, but the extensive Treasury Dept website touts the TFTP as something it needs to prevent terrorists and money launderers from misusing the banking system.

      Without even going near the phone and internet data, there's enough legal basis to disrupt US banking and finance operations.  Similarly, the draft resolution includes proposals that will make it impossible for Google, Facebook, Yahoo, et al to do business in Europe.

      You can talk about national security 24/7, but this is what it's coming to. Ironically, 2014 was supposed to be the year of free-trade and military integration through NATO but the EU draft resolution makes it all contingent upon the US changing its ways.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:13:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, I thought it would be clear enough that (0+ / 0-)

        I was responding to the pointless question about Turkey. Any doofus knows you'll never trap a president with a question like that. That's all.

        Kleber asked Obama to explain the principles behind spying on foreign leaders of NATO countries and he used Turkey as an example.  Obama’s response:
        "I’m not going to comment on country by country."
        Your comments "Now you may cite national security privilege ..." and "You can talk about national security 24/7" are beside my point, although it may be that mine was likewise beside yours.

        Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

        by Bob Love on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 09:24:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mark Lippman

          It was definitely clear to me, it was just kind of mystifying that, with all the points made, and all the good info the diarist provided, your focus landed on the doofus interview question.

          That tweet was what jumped right out at me. You'd think we'd all be more concerned about "not pissing off half of Europe", but to each his own, I guess.

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:48:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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