Obama Warns of Going ‘Dark’ to Terror Threats, Refuses Press Questions

Friday from the White House, President Barack Obama made an announcement about the need for the Senate to pass the Patriot Act reform bill The Freedom Act, before the Sunday deadline comes.

In an awkward moment after the announcement, the president did not take questions and said “thank you'” repeatedly as the press continued to scream questions.

Remarks as follows:

Attorney General Lynch and I just discussed a wide range of issues, and at the regular meetings that I have with some of my top cabinet members, and we discussed issues of cyber security. We discussed the important role that the FBI and the Justice Department play in our counter terrorism efforts, as well as discussing issues like community policing and human trafficking. But I thought this would be a good opportunity before we break for the weekend to just remind everyone that on Sunday at midnight, a whole bunch of authorities that we have in order to prevent terrorist attacks in this country expire.

Now, fortunately the House of Representatives was able to put forward a piece of legislation, the USA Freedom Act, that received overwhelming bipartisan support, and what it does is not only continue authorities that currently exist and are not controversial — for example, the capacity of the FBI and our other law enforcement agencies to use what’s called a roving wiretap. Individuals who, where there’s probable cause that that individual might be engaged in a terrorist act, but is switching cell phones, we can move from cell phone to cell phone—not a controversial provision. Those authorities would be continued.

What the USA Freedom Act also does is it reforms the bulk data collection program that has been of significant concern and that I promised we could reform over a year and a half ago. So we now have Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate who think this is the right way to go. We’ve got our law enforcement, national security teams and civil liberties proponents and advocates who say this is the right way to go. The only thing that’s standing in the way is a handful of senators who are resisting these reforms, despite what law enforcement is saying.

So let’s go ahead and get this done. So we’ve only got a few days. These authorities expire on Sunday at midnight, and I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away, and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity, but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the senate.

So I’ve indicated to leader McConnell and other senators, I expect them to take action, and take action swiftly. That’s what the American people deserve. And this is not an issue in which we have to choose between security and civil liberties.This is an issue in which we, in fact, have struck the right balance and shaped a piece of legislation that everybody can support.  So let’s go ahead and get it done. All right?

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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