Julian Assange: Obama's NSA Reforms Are 'Embarrassing'

01/17/2014 01:19 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange blasted President Barack Obama's Friday NSA speech, calling the proposed reforms an "embarrassing" appearance that said "almost nothing."

In an interview with CNN, Assange accused Obama of being "dragged kicking and screaming" into the address.

"He is being very reluctant to make any concrete reforms,” Assange told CNN. “And unfortunately today we also see very few concrete reforms.”

Obama's Friday speech consisted of modest changes for the surveillance program, ranging from narrowing the "hops" away from a target number the NSA can query, working with FISA to gain search approvals, and eventually creating a third-party group to manage phone metadata.

Obama stressed that "important decisions" needed to be made to balance security threats with civil liberties and privacy protections.

"We need to do so not only because it is right, but because the challenges posed by threats like terrorism, and proliferation, and cyberattacks are not going away anytime soon, they are going to continue to be a major problem, and for our intelligence community to be effective over the long haul, we must maintain the trust of the American people, and people around the world."

A trio of Democrats -- Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) -- reacted positively to Obama's remarks. But to maintain that "trust" referenced by the president, they called for additional reforms.

Via the senators' release:

In particular, we will work to close the “back-door searches” loophole and ensure that the government does not read Americans’ emails or other communications without a warrant. We will work to ensure that intelligence activities do not recklessly undermine confidence in American IT products and American IT employers. We will also continue to press for meaningful reforms of the outdated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court process. This should include the establishment of a strong, independent advocate to ensure that the Court hears both sides of the argument.

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