The programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press are secret in the sense that they are classified but they are not secret in the sense that when it comes to phone calls every member of Congress has been briefed on this program. With respect to all these programs the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs. These are programs that have been authorized by broad bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006. So I think it's important to understand that your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed about exactly what we're doing.OK, so my other elected representatives have been complicit with you in undermining our civil liberties. Was that supposed to make me feel better?
With respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to U.S. citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States.How exactly do you distinguish the email accounts of U.S. citizens and residents from those of non-citizens and non-residents?
When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program is about. ... What the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers, and durations of calls; they are not looking at people's names and they're not looking at content. ... If the intelligence committee actually wants to listen to a phone call they have to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation.So you're only snooping on part of my private life instead of all of my private life. Again, is that supposed to make me feel better?
One of the things we're going to have to discuss and debate is how are we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy. Because there are some trade-offs involved. I welcome this debate, and I think it's healthy for our democracy.
Here's the problem, Mr. President: we already had this debate. We had it in 2008 when you ran for president. Back then you said that if we voted for you we would "leave behind the era of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and 'wiretaps without warrants'.
You can't have 100-percent security and also have 100-percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a society.That's right. And in 2008 and 2012 the American People made that choice based on the promises you made. We chose freedom and the rule of law.
I don't welcome leaks. There's a reason why these programs are classified.
Indeed, because if it were known that you were doing this, the American People would rise up in righteous indignation. You have betrayed us. You have betrayed your campaign promises and your oath to uphold the Constitution. Like George Bush before you, you have twisted the law and the political process to turn the United States of America into a surveillance state in the name of national security. The Constitution is very clear:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.There is no exception for national security. The possibility that someone might plan a terrorist attack under the protection of the fourth amendment is the price we pay for freedom. Anyone who isn't willing to pay that price should go live in North Korea.
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