WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he will meet soon with a privacy and civil liberties oversight board to discuss ways to balance the need for U.S. surveillance while respecting people’s right to privacy.
Obama, in an interview with PBS anchor Charlie Rose, said he believed there is plenty of transparency about the U.S. government’s top-secret monitoring of Americans’ phone and Internet data but that he has asked the intelligence community to see if there is more that can be revealed about it to reassure people.
“What I’ve asked the intelligence community to do is see how much of this we can declassify without further compromising the program. ... And they are in that process of doing so now,” he said.
Obama has come under fire for the scope of surveillance by the National Security Agency revealed by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
He said in the interview, taped on Sunday and broadcast on Monday, that he would meet with members of a privacy and civil liberties oversight board that he had already established to start a dialogue on Americans’ concerns about the program.
He said he wanted to set up a national conversation on the topic.
“The way I view it, my job is both to protect the American people and to protect the American way of life, which includes our privacy,” he said.
Obama’s approval rating among Americans has dropped eight percentage points over the past month, down to 45 percent, according to a CNN/ORC International poll. The fallout over the surveillance programs was cited as a reason.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Lisa Shumaker