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Obama hints at surveillance rethink

US President Barack Obama has
suggested there may be a review of
surveillance by the National Security
Agency in the wake of a series of spying
He said in "light of disclosures that have
taken place" and public concerns about
the programmes "there may be another
way of skinning the cat".
But Mr Obama said ex-NSA contractor
Edward Snowden had caused
"unnecessary damage" by leaking
He declined to say whether or not Mr
Snowden could be offered an amnesty.
Edward Snowden fled the US in late May,
taking a huge cache of secret documents
with him. He faces espionage charges in
the US and has been granted temporary
asylum in Russia.
President Obama made his comments at
an end-of-year news conference at the
White House.
Earlier in the week a federal judge
declared the mass collection of telephone
data unconstitutional and a presidential
advisory panel suggested reforms.
The NSA was found to have engaged in
large-scale trawling of phone call data
Both the judge and the panel said there
was little evidence that any terror plot
had been thwarted by the programme.
"There are ways we can do it, potentially,
that gives people greater assurance that
there are checks and balances, that
there's sufficient oversight and sufficient
transparency," Mr Obama said.
He said that programmes like the bulk
collection of phone records "could be
redesigned in ways that give you the
same information when you need it
without creating these potentials for
Mr Obama said he would make a
"definitive statement" in January about
recommendations by the White House
"I have confidence in the fact that the
NSA is not engaging in domestic
surveillance or snooping around," he
Edward Snowden has his supporters in
the US, as this Washington bus shows
"We may have to refine this further to
give people more confidence. And I'm
going to be working very hard on doing
On the subject of possibly granting Mr
Snowden an amnesty, Mr Obama said: "I
will leave it up to the courts and the
attorney general to weigh in on Mr
Snowden's case.''
On Friday, more details of people and
institutions targeted by UK and US
surveillance - from documents leaked by
Edward Snowden - were published by
The Guardian, The New York Times and
Der Spiegel.
The papers said the list of about 1,000
targets included an EU commissioner,
humanitarian organisations and Israeli
officials including a prime minister.
They suggested that more than 60
countries were targets of the NSA and
Britain's GCHQ.
The European Commission said in a
statement that the claims, if true,
"deserve our strongest condemnation".
"This is not the type of behaviour that we
expect from strategic partners, let alone
from our own member states."
In October, news that the NSA had
monitored the phone of German
Chancellor Angela Merkel triggered a
diplomatic row between Berlin and
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff was
also angered by revelations that the NSA
had hacked the computer network of
Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras
to collect data on emails and telephone

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