Obama: False Choice Between Privacy and Security

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NSA PRISM

Speaking about NSA surveillance programs he called "transparent," President Barack Obama said it was a “false choice” to think that privacy must be sacrificed in order to achieve security. 

In an interview with Charlie Rose on Monday, Obama claimed just because there is a "tradeoff doesn’t mean somehow that we’ve abandoned freedom."

He added, "My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather, are we setting up a system of checks and balances?” 

Obama also said that he could "unequivocally " say that the NSA cannot listen to the phone calls or "target" the emails of American citizens without obtaining a warrant to do so.

"That doesn’t mean that there are not tradeoffs involved in any given program, in any given action that we take," he said. "So all of us make a decision that we go through a whole bunch of security at airports, which when we were growing up that wasn’t the case... And so that’s a tradeoff we make."

Obama also said the FISA requests are "surprisingly small" because "folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion."

Of the Prism program, Obama said, "it can only be narrowly related to counter-terrorism, weapons proliferation, cyber hacking or attacks, and a select number of identifiers--phone numbers, emails." He said warrants were need to obtain that information, and it "does not apply to U.S. persons."


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