Here's the very definition of a wide-ranging interview: President Obama spoke with "New Day" host Chris Cuomo on Friday about chemical attacks in Syria, college costs, the NSA, and his new dog, Sunny.
Obama stuck to his guns on NSA spying, saying the government is trying to protect national security while making sure privacy safeguars are in place.
"NSA had inadvertently, accidentally pulled the e-mails of some Americans in violation of their own rules, because of technical problems that they didn't realize," Obama said. "They presented those problems to the court. The court said, 'This isn't going to cut it. You're going to have to improve the safeguards, given these technical problems.' That's exactly what happened. So the point is, is that all these safeguards, checks, audits, oversight worked."
Cuomo and Obama met up in Syracuse, where Obama is on a bus tour to talk about and N.Y., promote his plans to reduce skyrocketing college costs. Obama said the current situation is "unsustainable."
He blamed both liberals and conservatives for the problem, saying that liberals keep devoting more money to loans, grants and aid, while conservatives think "young people should be able to figure it out on their own."
"Government shouldn't be in the job of profiting from students who need to go to college," Obama said. "But we should also expect something from the colleges, which is they're controlling their costs better, and we should expect something from the students … a lot of students, because in part they're not well-informed, they're taking out a lot of loans but they're not thinking through how fast they need to graduate, they never graduate, and they can't pay back the loans."
Cuomo also asked Obama about the situations in Syria and Egypt. Egypt is in the middle of another leadership change and massive protests. Syria is suspected of using chemical weapons against its citizens.
Obama said the U.S. can't rush to judgement. "When you listen to what's happened around Egypt and Syria… everybody asks what the U.S. is doing," he said. "It's because the United States continues to be the one country that people expect can do more than just simply protect their borders. But that does not mean that we have to get involved with everything immediately. We have to think through strategically what's going to be in our long-term national interests, even as we work cooperatively internationally to do everything we can to put pressure on those who would kill innocent civilians."
Cuomo pressed him on his own comment, made over a year ago, about use of chemical weapons in Syria crossing a "red line."
"If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it," Obama said.
Talk finally turned to lighter matters, such as the Obama family's new dog, Sunny. Obama said that with "the two other puppies" in the family — his daughters — grown up, Bo needed some company. He conceded there have been some messes at the White House.
"There have been a couple accidents," Obama revealed.
"Is that like a federal violation?" Cuomo asked. "Because that's a national museum."
"We live in rental housing," Obama said. "We didn't have to put down a deposit, but we are making sure that it gets cleaned up for the next occupant."
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