Obama: I could be on a surveillance list one day


President Obama speaks about the National Security Agency's secret data collection. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

At the end of his comments Friday morning defending the government’s secret surveillance of people’s phone records and Internet activities, President Obama argued that he had a stake in these issues because he might be "high" on any potential list of targets.

"And by the way, with respect to my concerns about privacy issues, I will leave this office at some point, sometime in the last — next three and a half years, and after that, I will be a private citizen," he said. "And I suspect that, on a list of people who might be targeted so that somebody could read their e-mails or listen to their phone calls, I'd probably be pretty high on that list. It's not as if I don't have a personal interest in making sure my privacy is protected."

Obama did not elaborate on why he would "probably" be high on a surveillance list.

Privacy advocates were skeptical.

"He wants to make sure we know, or make us believe, that he has a stake in ensuring protections in these really overarching surveillance schemes," said Jay Cox, a privacy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "But he hasn't allowed for the American people to know about the program or have a conversation about the program."

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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