On Friday afternoon, President Obama responded for the first time to the revelations of various National Security Agency data gathering programs — from recording all call records in and outside of the United States, to the PRISM program, which reportedly taps into the data streams of some of the largest data hosting companies in the country.
Here's the gist: Although you, the citizens, have not heard of this, we have substantial oversight on these programs involving every branch of government. Legislators have been briefed (in regards to the telephone data, he said all members knew), and "if anybody in government wanted to go further than that top-line data "¦ they would have to go back to a federal judge," Obama said.
Basically, if you trust the system, you should trust us.
"In the abstract you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok," the president said. "But if you look at the details ... I think we have struck a nice balance." The president also reassured that "no one is listening to your telephone calls" and that although he came into office with "a healthy skepticism about these programs," he is reassured that they don't overreach. "The modest encroachments on privacy that are involved ... it was worth us doing," he said.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.