Obama on NSA: I’m no Dick Cheney

President Obama said in an interview airing Monday night that comparisons between his surveillance policies and the Bush Administration go too far, distancing himself in particular from former Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Some people say, 'Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before; now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney,'" Obama said, according to a transcript. "Dick Cheney sometimes says, 'Yeah, you know? He took [the Bush-Cheney approach] all, lock, stock and barrel.' My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances."

Obama also declined to say whether he thinks the contractor who leaked information about the surveillance programs, Edward Snowden, should be prosecuted.

"I’m not going to comment on prosecution," Obama said, adding: "The case has been referred to the DOJ for criminal investigation ... and possible extradition. I will leave it up to them to answer those questions."

Editor’s note: The above quotes were originally part of a transcript that was under embargo until 11 p.m. After other organizations reported earlier than that on this portion of the interview, the Washington Post asked that the embargo on this portion be lifted, which PBS granted.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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