Glenn Greenwald: Obama NSA Speech A 'PR Gesture'

Glenn Greenwald Slams Obama's NSA Speech

Glenn Greenwald dismissed President Obama's Friday speech outlining his reforms of the NSA as a "PR gesture," and mocked Obama's comments about the effect caused by Edward Snowden's leaks.

Obama announced a series of proposed changes to the way the NSA collects some data, though he emphasized that the data collection would continue. Speaking to Al Jazeera America before the speech, Greenwald did not appear to place much faith in Obama's intentions:

“It’s really just basically a PR gesture, a way to calm the public and to make them think there’s reform when in reality there really won’t be. And I think that if the public, at this point, has heard enough about what the NSA does and how invasive it is, that they’re going to need more than just a pretty speech from President Obama to feel as though their concerns have been addressed.”

Greenwald was just as critical during the speech itself. He noted that Obama was framing the debate around where citizens' data would be stored, rather than whether it needed to be collected in the first place:

"Store all citizens' communications records" is a radical policy. But it's been transformed to normal- only allowed debate is: who holds it?

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 17, 2014

He also responded to Obama's reference to the "debate" surrounding the NSA, which many think would never have taken place in its current form without Snowden's intervention:

So let's imprison for decades he who enabled it RT @janinegibson Obama: "One thing I am certain of, this debate will make us stronger."

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 17, 2014

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