In particular, this sentence suggests a high level of self-awareness on this topic: "not only am I reigned in, but any president is reigned in".
However, this being the run-up to the election, he starts to back pedal towards the end. This is not exactly a powerful defense "we have modified them, and built a — a legal structure, and safeguards in place that weren’t there before". And it can't be, because there's not much there to defend.
Here's the relevant part of the transcript:
OBAMA: You know one of the things we’ve got to do is — is — is put a legal architecture in place and we need congressional help to do that, to make sure that not only am I reigned in, but any president is reigned in, in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making. Now there are some tradeoffs. I mean there are times where there are bad folks somewhere on the other side of the world, and you’ve got to make a call, and it’s not optimal. But when you look at our track record, what we’ve been able to do is to say, we ended the war in Iraq. We’re — we’re winding down the war in Afghanistan. We’ve gone after al-Qaeda and its leadership. It’s true that al-Qaeda is still active, at least sort of remnants of it are staging in other parts of North Africa and the Middle East.
And sometimes you’ve got to make some tough calls, but you can do so in a way that’s consistent with…
OBAMA: …international law, and with American law.
STEWART: Within that, as it ratchets down, I think people have been surprised to see the strength of the Bush era, warrantless wiretapping laws and those types of things, not also be lessened. That the — the strictures that he put in place that people might have thought were government over-reaching, and that maybe they had a mind that — that you would perhaps tone down, you haven’t?
OBAMA: Well you know the truth is actually, we have modified them, and built a — a legal structure, and safeguards in place that weren’t there before. On a whole range of issues. Now that — they’re not real sexy issues. They’re not the kind of things that you’re going to…