UPDATE 11:55 A.M. As President Barack Obama laid out his plans Friday to reform U.S. surveillance practices, he acknowledged the role leaker and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden played in spurring those changes, but said Snowden’s actions set a terrible precedent.
“Given the fact of an open investigation, I’m not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or motivations,” Obama said during a speech at the Justice Department. “Our nation’s defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation’s secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it in their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy.”
Obama also complained that Snowden’s leaks revealed “methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.” Later in his speech, the president again referred to “the Snowden disclosures” and observed that some countries are feigning outrage over the U.S. surveillance since they “are constantly probing our government and private sector networks, and accelerating programs to listen to our conversations, intercept our emails, or compromise our systems.”
Snowden is facing three felony charges in a criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department in June. The former NSA contractor is presently living in Russia under a temporary grant of asylum.