There's one statement that the president made on The Tonight Show Tuesday night that's worth paying particular attention to. The president told host Jay Leno that the Snowden leaks hasn't shown that the government abused its surveillance powers. Maybe not, but that doesn't mean the government hasn't abused them.
[W]hat I said as soon as it happened I continue to believe in, which is a lot of these programs were put in place before I came in. I had some skepticism, and I think we should have a healthy skepticism about what government is doing. I had the programs reviewed. We put in some additional safeguards to make sure that there’s federal court oversight as well as congressional oversight, that there is no spying on Americans.
We don’t have a domestic spying program. What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat. And that information is useful. But what I’ve said before I want to make sure I repeat, and that is we should be skeptical about the potential encroachments on privacy. None of the revelations show that government has actually abused these powers, but they’re pretty significant powers.
It's easy to read a lot into off-the-cuff comments from a person appearing on television. But that last sentence is remarkable. "None of the revelations show that government has actually abused these powers, but they’re pretty significant powers."