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President Obama sat down with passionate fan and MSNBC host Chris Matthews tonight for an interview that was either "crucial" or "fairly insignificant," depending on who you read.

Though Matthews said he would ask Obama some "easier questions," he touched on the NSA -- specifically, the latest Washington Post revelation that the agency gathers almost 5 billion records per day to track cell phone locations.

No surprise here: Obama defended the NSA's work on the grounds that it'll protect us from "bad actors" and "people who are trying to hurt us."

But he also admitted that the "Snowden disclosures have identified some areas of legitimate concern," although other areas were "highly sensationalized and [have] been painted in a way that's not accurate."

That said, we shouldn't get too upset about the fact that the NSA can access basically all of our electronic communications that we thought were private, because Obama says they don't want to. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

"The NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance," Obama said. "They are not interested in reading your emails. They are not interested in reading your text messages."

And if you aren't in America, well, all bets are off. "Outside of our borders, the NSA is more aggressive," Obama said. "It's not constrained by laws." Oh. Sorry, Merkel.

As for those "areas of legitimate concern," Obama said, he is going to use the results of an "independent review" of the NSA's tactics to propose "some self-restraint" and "initiate some reforms" in the next month or two.

Obama said he still believes "we've got a big system of checks and balances, including the courts and Congress." Do you?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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