Edward Snowden came close to outright declaring victory Tuesday in his crusade against government spying, seizing on the White House’s plan to end bulk collection of domestic phone records in its current state.
“This is a turning point, and it marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public’s seat at the table of government,” the former National Security Agency contractor said in a statement circulated by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is providing the fugitive legal advice.
He added: “Congress is considering historic, albeit incomplete reforms. And President Obama has now confirmed that these mass surveillance programs, kept secret from the public and defended out of reflex rather than reason, are in fact unnecessary and should be ended.”
Snowden’s comments arrive a day after The New York Times reported that Obama would accept a proposal from his administration to allow the vast database of phone records to stay in the hands of phone companies. The switch from current protocol would allow NSA agents to access data on a target only after obtaining an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Snowden, 30, became an overnight household name in June 2013, after leaking about 1.7 million top-secret documents he downloaded when employed in Hawaii by government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. A torrent of news reports exposing the government’s surveillance programs continued throughout the year and has not abated in 2014.
Snowden fled to Hong Kong and eventually landed in Russia, where he currently resides, following an extended diplomatic controversy culminating with him earning temporary asylum there.
Earlier on Tuesday, Obama said he was “confident” the NSA changes would address privacy concerns.
“It allows us to do what is necessary in order to deal with the dangers of a nefarious attack and addresses the dangers that people have raised,” the president said.
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At the end of the debate, moderator Lester Holt asked Donald Trump if he stands by his statement that Hillary Clinton didn't have the look of a president. Trump responded by saying Holt misquoted him, instead saying that Clinton "doesn't have the stamina." Clinton responded by saying that when Trump visits 112 countries as secretary of state, he can talk to her about stamina.
Donald Trump, when pressed by Lester Holt on why he finally admitted that President Obama was born in America, repeated his widely debunked claim that it was started by Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton went point by point on how race can so often determine the treatment that people receive, mentioning recent shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, calling for restored trust between communities and police, and demanding criminal justice reform. Trump responded by calling for law and order and touting his endorsements from police unions. He then said that “African Americans are living in hell,” saying they are just walking down the street and getting “shot ... being decimated by crime."
Just as Hillary Clinton was inviting debate viewers to visit her site for real-time fact checking, there appeared to be a problem with Donald Trump's own campaign website. For about a 15-minute period, a blank page or an error message appeared when we tried to load the Trump site.
Donald Trump has come out in the first segment of this debate raring to go. Trump has interrupted nearly every answer being given by Hillary Clinton, talking over her time and again. Clinton is sticking to her guns, smiling while Trump speaks and then calling on people to go to her website and see the fact checking being done.