(WASHINGTON) The White House today addressed heavy criticism of the latest spying allegations involving the National Security Agency, announcing at a press conference that a new travel alert has just been issued for Americans traveling abroad.
“The president takes the issue of privacy very, very seriously,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday morning. “He is ready to work with the NSA to ensure that all citizens enjoy the right to privacy and property in these dangerous times.
“This might be a good time to mention,” Carney continued, “that we’ve received new information and are issuing a travel warning for Americans. Again, the president is serious about the Fourth Amendment and respects the individual right to privacy. Americans traveling in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and parts of Europe are advised to be vigilant.”
Asked whether the NSA’s protocols might change, Carney remarked that the Administration is considering how best to rein in its vast surveillance program without putting innocent lives at risk. “We want to respect freedom, otherwise we’re no better than the terrorists,” he said. “Who, by the way, have been chattering a lot lately, and seem to be planning something, possibly in East Africa, parts of Eastern Europe, possibly Mexico and the Caribbean, New York City, Washington, Moscow, and Anchorage.”
“President Obama understands and respects that this country was founded on certain inalienable rights, and has every intention of obeying the Constitution. In the meantime, we encourage Americans to go about their business, be safe, and report anything suspicious to the police or the FBI – again, because of the significant information unearthed by NSA.”
Later in the day, pressed for a response, President Obama read aloud an email by Jenny Thompson, age 8, from Kansas City, Kansas. “Jenny sent this to her father, a chief of detectives in the Kansas City police force,” Obama explained. “It says, ‘Dear Daddy, please keep us safe so my friends can come over for my birthday and eat cake and play soccer. I love you. Jenny.’ How can we let down little Jenny and all her friends? We’re going to do everything possible so folks like Jenny can have a fun birthday.”
Asked if it was Jenny or her father who forwarded the email to the White House, Obama answered, “the important thing is Americans be safe and vigilant.”