Kerry defends U.S. surveillance program, but admits it goes too far at times
November 1st, 2013
02:17 AM ET

Kerry defends U.S. surveillance program, but admits it goes too far at times

Secretary of State John Kerry defended U.S. surveillance programs as he took part in a London conference by video Thursday, but acknowledged, "yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately".

Kerry, who was in Washington, addressed the Open Government Partnership annual summit meeting.

During a discussion of the surveillance programs, Kerry talked about the spying accusations that have roiled world leaders.

"There is no question that the President and I and others in government have actually learned of some things that had been happening, in many ways, on an automatic pilot because the technology is there, the ability has been there, over the course of a long period of time, really going back to World War II and to the very difficult years of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, and then, of course, 9/11," he said.

Citing examples of terrorist attacks, Kerry said, "what if you were able to intercept that and stop it before it happens? We have actually prevented airplanes from going down, buildings from being blown up, and people from being assassinated because we've been able to learn ahead of time of the plans."

He said the process will be reassessed to ensure people don't feel violated.

"I assure you innocent people are not being abused in this process, but there's an effort to try to gather information. And yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately. And the President, our President, is determined to try to clarify and make clear for people and is now doing a thorough review in order that nobody will have the sense of abuse. "

"I acknowledge to you, as has the President, that some of these actions have reached too far," he added. "And we are going to make sure that does not happen in the future".

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Filed under: NSA • Sec. State John Kerry
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Ed Bodi

    Don't blame this on President Obama. The US has become unhinged after 9/11. For the first time in its history the US was directly attacked by foreign forces and it still has not learned how to deal with it, unlike European countries who have been embroiled in wars for hundreds of years.

    November 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  2. comen

    President Obama is disgusting. Snowden is a patriot that fought this Executive Branch attack again the American Republic/ people. Obama would have crushed him like all other whistleblowers if he tried to mention it any other way. Obama has been caught, and exposed as a liar. Absolutely, Obama = disgusting. Any congress person, such as Dianne Feinstein, who does not publically recognize Snowden's worthy act is disgusting also.

    Obama's attack again whistle blowers is like the mafia and gangs killing off informants. Obama has NO integrity, morals, or ethics.

    November 3, 2013 at 10:55 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Thank you, comen. You nailed it good! Too bad that most of these idiots here don't see things our way!

      November 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  3. Ed Bodi

    Won't be long before the US government has us spying on our neighbors (to prevent terrorist acts, it would advise) much along the lines of what Stalin and Hitler did during their reign of power. Back to the future folks!

    November 2, 2013 at 12:21 am | Reply
  4. Jeff

    Citing examples of terrorist attacks, Kerry said, "what if you were able to intercept that and stop it before it happens? We have actually prevented airplanes from going down, buildings from being blown up, and people from being assassinated because we've been able to learn ahead of time of the plans."

    Proof? None because there is none..

    November 1, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Well put, Jeff. Thank you.

      November 2, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
  5. Olim

    How ear Mr. Kerry?

    November 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Reply
    • Olim

      Not ear but farπŸ™‚

      November 1, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  6. Jason

    Kerry puts out a blanket statement condemning spying that goes too far.......The next day another story of the Government peeking in at our lives will reveal itself. Keep putting out information, Snowden!

    November 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  7. acrabahyiouspe

    "Kerry: Some U.S. spying goes too far"

    No, Kerry, 99.99999999% of your spying is on wrong targets. only 0.00000001% of your spying is on legitimate targets!\\

    You are indiscriminately spying on every living person on the planet in order to get information on perhaps 10,000 individuals that you actually need to monitor.

    November 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  8. Ed Bodi

    I wonder if the US would have been so dismissive of the spying if it was Obama's phone that was bugged.

    November 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  9. Random

    One thing I dont think people understand, when this first happened I said the only way to deal with it is stop doing it and pay the consequences of potentially not connecting the dots, or catching an attack. It would seem those in charge have chosen that route.
    People should remember that we will pay the consequences for this, when an attack is missed it will be us , the ones complaining about this that die. This is the bet you take when you say your security is not worth sacrifice, or that the sacrifice is unnecessary.

    To put it bluntly, Im not convinced this path ends well for us. By us I mean peons of the world. At best we will take a bloody nose before getting passed this.

    November 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • Random

      When I suggested it it was intended as a warning, to us , to be careful what we ask for. This will work long term most likely but at what cost. I never thought the cost was worth the gain. I never thought it would be considered by those in charge. But we haven't left much choice.

      November 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • tomczerniawski

      When the next terrorist attack strikes America, maybe we'll realize that it occurred in revenge for our decades of slaughter in the Middle East.

      November 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  10. KEVIN

    Good for Kerry. Now we need to clearly demonstrate to our population that Congress COMPLETELY CONTROLS the NSA

    November 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • comen

      Kevin, Obama and democrats will soon blame repubs in congress for the executive branch's NSA.

      November 3, 2013 at 10:57 am | Reply
  11. johnnydoughboy

    Use some stronger binoculars and telescope and you'll be able to see at a greater distance for spying.

    November 1, 2013 at 11:08 am | Reply
  12. Julian Assange

    American THIEVES are not to be trusted, EVER!
    Thanks to Snowden the WORLD knows VERY WELL how DISHONEST are American Rodents!

    November 1, 2013 at 10:22 am | Reply
    • Greg Keener

      Well said, Julian.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:49 am | Reply
    • bill o'rights

      Look at Qatar.

      Who would suspect a tiny little nation of 250-300,000 people?

      Look closely, and see the frightening truth.

      November 1, 2013 at 11:01 am | Reply
    • USAPeasant

      Lol, all the world leaders are dishonest snakes either trying to oppress their own people or backstab other world leaders. Did you really need Snowden to tell you this? History has told this story time and time again. Heck a lot of the news stories tell you this every single day. You say that Americans are treacherous, and you're right, but you better take a hard look at the rest of this treacherous world too.

      Lol and if you are the real Julian Assange I'd suggest you start with the fact that your beloved Australia is still a vassal state for the British Crown. You know, the same Crown that has troops outside your embassy waiting to scoop you up and throw you in prison. Much to say on America, yet little to say on British, Australian, and Swedish governments betraying Assange, eh? Even Julian's beloved soviets are going to let him get thrown to the dogs.

      Maybe after you get over the First World's treachery you can explore how the Second World Russians are imprisoning, assasinating, and shaking down journalists, artists, politicians, and musicians and the Chinese are harvesting organs out of living people against their will. Then after you get over that you can examine the Third World where the whole name of the game is an endless cycle of treachery, oppression, coups, and power plays.

      Americans know more about how their own government is messed up than anyone else, and furthermore freely speak out against their own government more than any other people on Earth. You needed Snowden to tell you all this, but Americans have been talking about these programs and laws when Snowden was still an unknown patron getting lap-dances at the club. Unlike other people though Americans recognize the entire world is messed up. Foreigners can talk smack about America all day long, but they just seem unable to come to grips with their own country's messed up problems.

      Don't confuse the current American government with the American People. When it comes down to it Americans are the only ones with the guts to stand up to our own government and yours simultaneously.

      November 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
      • Julian Assange

        Your post is SO ALIGNED with American PROPAGANDA that you convinced me that you MUST have wires coming from Washington STRAIGHT into your brain!
        Enjoy!

        November 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  13. arceon

    Ya think?!!

    November 1, 2013 at 9:09 am | Reply
  14. billy

    OMG John, it took you long enough to figure this out.

    November 1, 2013 at 8:23 am | Reply
  15. Fate

    Edward Snowden continues to remain an iconal attribute to many in our age.
    As foster parents we have to let him return home lest he be punished by Putin's bias than what moral measures that US could actually do.

    November 1, 2013 at 8:02 am | Reply
    • comen

      The US executive branch will continue to make Snowden a poster child of anti-American espionage – nothing could be further from the truth. He will be in every anti-espionage training class. Every student in those classes should quickly and aggressively question the instructors presenting execute branch approved classes – make their lives uncomfortable. Then force the Obama administration to change and do the right thing instead of its dishonest corruption and attacks of its people! What this nation needs is change. Obama and his cronies are disgusting, and need to go away!

      November 3, 2013 at 11:03 am | Reply
  16. Jeff

    When "regular" citizens go to far, it normally results in criminal prosecution. So..........

    November 1, 2013 at 7:37 am | Reply
  17. Silentspy

    So now they admit that spying went too far. I wonder if they will pardon Snowden and apologize to him in the White House. ( ok , I am joking...)

    November 1, 2013 at 6:27 am | Reply
    • Greg Keener

      No joking, Silentspy. They really do need to both pardon Edward Snowden and apologize to him for their insane persecution of him! Like John Kerry said, this kind of espionage by NSA went way too far!

      November 1, 2013 at 10:55 am | Reply
  18. zoglet

    Hopefully Germany will bring Snowden to Germany as a witness in their enquiry and offer him asylum. I can think of no better retort to the US government than giving them the finger in this way. The world would definitely respect that.

    November 1, 2013 at 5:38 am | Reply
    • khunya

      Are you kidding? Even if the German government offered the invitation to come to live there, there's no way Snowden will go. He's now living and working, probably, happily in Russia, for now anyway. As long as he's a useful tool to Putin. Once Putin is gone or he's no longer useful, then he'll go to South America or to Scandinavian like Finland.

      November 1, 2013 at 5:53 am | Reply
    • USAPeasant

      Lol that would be funny.

      I don't think Snowden will go to Germany though if he is smart (though he went to Russia, so he may not be that smart.) Even though Germany might not be happy with us right now, if Snowden landed in Berlin tomorrow, the German government would have to turn him over to us pronto. I'm not 100% sure, but I assume Snowden doesn't want to come back after we had senators and congressmen literally calling for his execution on national and international media. Germany might be mad at us, and might like Snowden, but at the end of the day the german government has to do what we say because they lost two world wars. I'm sure Snowden or at least his lawyers are aware of this.

      November 1, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
      • terminaldogma75

        From memory the US does not have a current extradition treaty with Russia so he is somewhat out of the reach of the US and hence the reason he went there. Germany does certainly have an extradition treaty with the US but a request for extradition does not necessarily mean that it is granted so it would be at the discretion of the Germans to hand him over were that to eventuate. Not to say that they would not, but there would be signficant pressure to refuse it on the basis of the recent revelations regarding US signals intelligence activities in Germany.

        November 1, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  19. ShiverMeTimbers

    Where are the five dancing Israelis? Kerry is an Israeli shill. πŸ™‚

    November 1, 2013 at 5:28 am | Reply
  20. Freddie nerk

    Nothing to apologise for...except for allowing Snowden to still be around. Why doesn't Putin now evict him since he is surely damaging US-Russia relations? The CIA must put this rabid dog down.

    November 1, 2013 at 5:16 am | Reply
    • terminaldogma75

      Surely you jest, this man is like political gold for the likes of Putin, seemingly giving the guy that lifts the lid on all the apparently dirty practices of the US spying on friends and allies. Whether that is the case or not or whether Snowden has done what he has for honourable reasons (at least in his own mind) is essentially meaningless when it comes to the political gain.

      November 1, 2013 at 6:34 am | Reply
    • billy

      Putin is loving this he gets a chance to poke a stick in Obama's eye. Obama has no freakin clue what he is doing, soon the politicians will call for his impeachment. This healthcare program will collapse upon itself and the debt will be $25 trillion before this bozo leaves office.

      November 1, 2013 at 8:26 am | Reply
    • Greg Keener

      Thank you Freddie nerk, for vomiting out your ignorance on this website. This is exactly what's wrong with America!

      November 1, 2013 at 11:02 am | Reply
    • USAPeasant

      Lol as Terminaldogma pointed out Snowden is a goldmine for Russian propaganda. However, what the ruskies, and seemingly our own government, don't realize is that Snowden could also be an inadvertent and helpful propaganda tool for us. The reason Snowden is helpful to America still is because now anytime Putin does something abuses his own peoples' human rights, as he is wont to do, we can simply say "well you let Snowden off the hook, why not treat your own people better?" Sooner or later the russian people will have to see that Snowden is treated better for defending human civil rights while the Russian people are imprisoned or worse for little stuff like singing songs. So while Putin can claim something of a morale victory for now, Snowden's asylum will ultimately come back to haunt him.

      November 1, 2013 at 11:30 am | Reply
      • comen

        Do you really think the Russian people are receiving news about Snowden that would be anything but complimentary to Putin? Putin's media and propaganda is much like Obama's.

        November 3, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • comen

      Freddie, You are a JackA. Putin is independent of Obama and the US. Doesn't need either. Plus aligning with Obama is a liability to him. Obama lost US allies and is now loosing the US domestically. Putin knows better than to catch a falling knife that is no threat to him.

      All the criticism of Obama that has leaked through the suppressed and censored US press appears true. Obama is a clueless amateur, failed leader, abusive, a liar, selfish, a radical who believes good principle are an inconvenience to achieving his selfish goals, etc.

      November 3, 2013 at 11:09 am | Reply

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