President Obama declined to say whether he knew that the National Security Agency had spied on German chancellor Angela Merkel and others during an interview on new cable channel Fusion, saying that he would not discuss classified information.
During an interview with White House correspondent and ABC News senior national correspondent Jim Avila for “America With Jorge Ramos” on Monday afternoon, Obama said that he’s the “final user” of the intelligence that the NSA gathers.
“People wonder, how is it you didn’t know about the cell phones being looked at or listened to, and why you didn’t know, and who should’ve told you?” Avila asked.
“Well, first of all, I’m not confirming a bunch of assumptions that have been made in the press,” Obama replied.
He added that he’s initiating a review to make sure that the agency’s powers remain in check.
“The national security operations, generally, have one purpose and that is to make sure the American people are safe and that I’m making good decisions,” Obama said. “I’m the final user of all the intelligence that they gather. But they’re involved in a whole wide range of issues.”
Noting that the White House gives the NSA “policy direction,” Obama added, “what we’ve seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that’s why I’m initiating now a review to make sure that what they’re able to do, doesn’t necessarily mean what they should be doing.”
Fusion, billed as a “news, pop-culture and satire TV and digital network from ABC and Univision,” launched on Monday.