Speaking during his annual end-of-the-year news conference, President Obama acknowledged the difficulties of 2013 while reiterating that there are plenty of reasons for him and the American people to be optimistic as 2014 approaches, predicting that it would be ”a breakthrough year for America,” the AP reports.
But Obama did comment on some of the glaring areas of criticism that have plagued the Obama administration this year. When it came to the widespread criticism surrounding the NSA’s power to collect information on Americans, Obama suggested that he may adjust the agency’s power and has collected the recommendations of members of a presidential task force regarding how to limit NSA programs.While Obama insisted that the NSA had not used the collected data in inappropriate ways, he explained, ”We may have to refine this further to give people more confidence.”
Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked detailed documents of the agency’s data collection practices and is now living in Russia through temporary asylum, was also a topic of discussion. A fugitive of the U.S., Snowden is still seeking permanent asylum through several governments, but many supporters have called for Obama to provide Snowden with amnesty. But Obama remained noncommittal on the subject. ”I will leave it up to the courts and the attorney general to weigh in in public on Mr. Snowden’s case,” he said.