Carney declines to comment on Snowden, defends U.S. surveillance policy

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment Monday on Edward Snowden, who has admitted disclosing classified information about the administration's national security surveillance programs.

"I will say at the outset that there is obviously an investigation underway into this matter," Carney told reporters during his daily briefing. "And for that reason, I am not going to be able to discuss specifically this individual or this investigation . . . nor would I characterize the president's views on an individual or an ongoing investigation.

When asked whether the president had watched the Guardian video in which Snowden talks about his decision to make details of the spy programs public, Carney said Obama "was briefed by members of his senior staff on that development and others."

He declined, however to say if Obama specifically watched Snowden's video: "I’m not going to get into what information he’s consumed."

More broadly, Carney said the recent leaks had taken a toll. "In general leaks of sensitive classified information that cause harm to our national security interests are a problem," he said.

And he defended the administration's approach to national security.

"I think that the president's record on transparency is broad and significant," Carney said. "I think the president's record on making the kinds of changes that he promised he would make to the ways that we pursue our fight against al-Qaeda and our fight against terrorists and extremists, he has lived up to."

Juliet Eilperin is a White House correspondent for The Washington Post, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.
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