Assange on Obama's NSA Speech: 'Embarrassing'

Friday, 17 Jan 2014 02:58 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Julian Assange slammed President Barack Obama's plans to reform the government's surveillance programs, saying after the president's speech Friday that it is "embarrassing for a head of state to go on like that for 45 minutes and say almost nothing."

"Although those national whistle-blowers have forced this debate, this president has been dragged, kicking and screaming to today's address," the Wikileaks founder said in an interview with CNN.

"He is being very reluctant to make any concrete reforms. And unfortunately, today we also see very few concrete reforms."

Story continues below video.

One of the president's proposals was to install a public advocate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees the surveillance programs.

"A public advocate constantly in the FISA court in a secret manner is unlikely to produce a decent result," Assange maintained. "That said, of course, it is a small advance. We have to see whether being implemented, who would be this public advocate."

Assange also charged the president with making false statements. "We heard a lot of lies in this speech by Obama," he said, pointing to Obama's remark that there has been no abuse by the NSA.

During the interview, Assange singled out Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked information about the government's secret programs.

"It's clear that the president would not be speaking today if it were not for the actions of Edward Snowden," he said.

Assange was speaking from inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where was granted diplomatic asylum in June 2012.

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