‘We Should Be Thanking Snowden’: Obama Forced to Consider NSA Reforms

President Barack Obama claimed in his end-of-the-year press conference on Friday that he will consider his NSA review board’s suggestions for limited reforms—a development that many say reflects the shift in public debate sparked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Yet, Obama refused to touch the topic of amnesty for Snowden, claiming that public discussion of government spying could have occurred without his revelations, and continuing his vigorous defense of the unpopular mass surveillance programs.

“The president said that we could have had this important debate without Snowden, but no one seriously believes we would have,” said Ben Wizner, Snowden’s attorney, in an interview with The Guardian: “And now that a federal court and the president’s own review panel have agreed that the NSA’s activities are illegal and unwise, we should be thanking Snowden, not prosecuting him.”

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