In a contentious press conference on Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney was battered over reports surrounding the National Security Agency’s monitoring of phone records and the so-called PRISM program, which monitors internet activity from millions of Americans. Carney repeatedly maintained that the administration was happy to debate the issue of surveillance – “These are questions that should be asked,” he said at one point, and stated later, “That’s an excellent question” in response to a query about public access to information for debating privacy – but offered few answers. Carney said that President Obama had been “very clear” that he takes privacy concerns seriously, and added that “The president’s record on transparency is broad and significant.”
But Carney offered no new statements on the surveillance programs. He said, “It’s entirely appropriate for a program to exist to look at foreign data and potential foreign terrorists but there are procedures in place … at the congressional, executive and judicial levels that provide oversight over these issues.”
Carney was unable to support President Obama’s contention last week that “when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program.” He also offered a no comment on the leaker, Edward Snowden.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).