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Obama: Edward Snowden Is Not A Patriot
President Barack Obama has said whistleblower Edward Snowden is not a patriot for revealing details of secret US surveillance programmes.
He said he had called for a "thorough review" of the operations before the leaks were made public in June - and had signed an order - the first of its kind - protecting whistleblowers in the intelligence community.
The US President conceded that the disclosures by Mr Snowden - a former US intelligence contractor - had prompted "a much more rapid and passionate response" than if he had just appointed a board to review the policies.
But he insisted: "We would have gotten to the same place without putting people at risk".
In a bid to quell anger over the controversial US Prism spying programme, Mr Obama promised to work with Congress to reform the Patriot Act to increase oversight of the intelligence community's surveillance operations to strike a balance between protecting Americans' safety and their privacy.
He said he was confident the programmes were "not being abused", but said they must be more transparent.
Mr Obama also announced plans for the formation of an outside advisory panel to review US surveillance powers, the assignment of a privacy officer at the National Security Agency, and the creation of an independent lawyer to argue against the government before the nation's surveillance court.
The President gave no indication of whether he was ready to end the massive collection of information about Americans' telephone calls and emails.
Mr Obama said he wanted to make clear that "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people".
"Our intelliegence is focused above all on finding the information that's necessary to protect our people, and in many cases protect our allies," he said.
He also explained that Russia's recent decision to grant asylum to ex-CIA employee Mr Snowden was not the only reason for cancelling a planned summit with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next month.
The President said there were "a number of emerging differences", including over Syria and human rights.
Mr Obama was speaking at an hour-long White House conference before a nine-day summer holiday with his family at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.