WASHINGTON – During his final press briefing from behind the White House podium Wednesday, departing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that President Obama occasionally listens in on the phone calls of American citizens being monitored by the NSA. Carney said the president’s participation is sporadic and is strictly for amusement and educational purposes.
“President Obama has now and then listened in on some phone calls, mainly for the purpose of understanding how the intelligence community operates. But it’s also been a way for him to relax after a taxing fundraiser or when inclement weather interferes with his time on the golf course.”
After a book signing in Gary, Indiana this afternoon, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confessed to reporters that it wasn’t uncommon to see the president listening to NSA tapped phone conversations during meetings in the Oval Office.
“President Obama found listening in on the conversations of American citizens relaxing. He became particularly obsessed with the phone calls of a Los Angeles woman who was having an affair with her boss, and how the betrayal was creating career problems for the boss’s wife. Fact is, I was recently told the president’s delayed response to the awful attack on our embassy in Benghazi can be attributed to his obsession with listening in on those phone calls. All I can say is, if I were the first woman president I would never, ever listen to the phone calls of my people.”
After a high spirited game of Jarts this afternoon with Barbra Streisand and Rev. Al Sharpton, President Obama spoke with reporters in the Rose Garden. Fox News reporter Ed Henry questioned the president about the validity of eavesdropping on American citizens’ phone calls.
ED HENRY: Mr. President, do you feel the need to apologize for listening in on private telephone conversations of the American people?
OBAMA: First, let me explain that I am not aware of the identity of the people on the other end of the phone line.
ED HENRY: So you believe it’s OK to listen if you don’t know who you’re listening to?
OBAMA: I’m not necessarily saying it’s OK. I mean, the American people have a right to privacy and I for one have fought for that since my administration began.
ED HENRY: With all due respect, Mr. President, how can you say you’ve fought for something that you personally disregard?
OBAMA: I have no idea who I’m listening to, Ed. Do you understand my point? If I don’t know who the people are, what kind of damage is actually being done?
ED HENRY: But, sir …