“Don’t look behind the curtain, here, shiny things!”

Via NY Times:

WASHINGTON — Standing in the grand presidential palace in Senegal this week, President Obama detoured from his diplomatic mission to Africa to offer a message to his own constituents back home.

“The American people don’t have a Big Brother who is snooping into their business,” he said, amplifying his answer to a question about the hunt for a national security leaker. “I’m confident of that. But I want to make sure everybody is confident of that.”

Wherever he goes, whatever else is on his agenda, Mr. Obama in recent weeks has made a point of reassuring Americans that he is not spying on them. His statements are part of a carefully orchestrated White House damage-control effort in response to revelations about surveillance programs that have unnerved many Americans and exposed him to criticism from the political left and right.

The strategy reflects the sensitivity of a president elected after assailing counterterrorism policies that he ultimately adopted in some form after taking office. With a blitz of statements, briefings, interviews, Twitter messages and selected disclosures, the White House has pushed back aggressively, arguing that his policies are both necessary to protect the nation against terrorists and yet more respectful of civil liberties and checks and balances than those initially enacted by President George W. Bush.

Mr. Obama’s aides said they were responding to disclosures about secret National Security Agency programs by trying to be more transparent about them, even as the administration chases the man who disclosed them across the world to prosecute him for espionage. They also say the president really wants a debate.

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