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Fri Jun 7, 2013, 02:04 PM

Obama: Spying programs only ‘modest’ invasion of privacy [View all]

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Source: Yahoo News

By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 57 mins ago

President Barack Obama on Friday defiantly defended the government's newly revealed telephone and Internet spying programs on grounds that Americans must tolerate what he dismissed as "modest encroachments on privacy" in the name of security.

With evident impatience, Obama suggested at one point that he set limits on what the National Security Agency (NSA) can grab without a judge's OK because he himself might one day be the target of such snooping.

"I came in with a healthy skepticism about these programs," Obama said at an event in San Jose, CA, initially designed to trumpet Obamacare but subverted by the dramatic disclosures. "My team evaluated them. We scrubbed them thoroughly. We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards."

But, the president said, "My assessment, and my team’s assessment, was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks. And the modest encorachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers, or duration [of calls] without a name attached, and without looking at content, that on net it was worth us doing."


Obama said Congress had been fully briefed on the various secret programs, and suggested that lawmakers who objected to those initiatives or to "abuses" could have done so. But lawmakers critical of such programs have repeatedly made clear that they are hamstrung by the Administration's decision to classify information -- making a full, public debate involving the American public impossible.

The president dismissed the "hype" that portrays such programs as s stepping stone towards a tyrannical "Big Brother"-like government. He also denounced the leaks that fed the news reports, saying the nation's secrets cannot be "dumped out willy-nilly" without damaging national security.


"With respect to my concerns about privacy issues: I will leave this office at some point -- sometime in the next three and a half years -- and after that I'll be a private citizen," he said. "And I suspect that on a list of people who might be targeted so that somebody could read their emails or listen to their phone calls, I’d probably be pretty high on that list. So it's not as though I don't have a a personal interest in making sure my privacy is protected."

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/obama-spying-programs-only-modest-invasion-privacy-170140961.html


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