Obama tells Charlie Rose Americans are uninformed on NSA program. So why doesn't he inform us?
Obama insists program isn't spying on Americans.
According to President Obama, Americans are "not getting the complete story" on PRISM, the comprehensive spying program conducted by the National Security Administration. So, why doesn't Obama provide the complete story?
"The public may not fully" understand them, Obama told Rose. "That can make the public kind of nervous, right?"
Obama insisted that American citizens are not being spied upon on an individual basis and that phone calls of American citizens are not being recorded. However, according to Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked the existence of the program to the world, any phone call can be tapped, even the president's. The level of permission needed to conduct such surveillance is also quite low.
Obama insists the permission level is high.
Obama explained, "if you're a U.S. person, then NSA is not listening to your phone calls, and it's not targeting your emails, unless it's getting an individualized court order."
Officials have confirmed that the court doesn't turn down many orders. Obama credited this to professional scrutiny beforehand, "folks don't go with a query unless they've got a pretty good suspicion."
Somebody is lying.
"So on this telephone program," Obama said, "you've got a federal court with independent federal judges overseeing the entire program. And you've got Congress overseeing the program - not just the intelligence committee and not just the judiciary committee - but all of Congress had available to it before the last reauthorization exactly how this program works."
Obama professed that he has directed the NSA to determine what aspects of the program can now be revealed to the public without compromising the effectiveness of the program. At some future point then, we can expect Obama to share more information about PRISM and how it works.
However, Congressional officials also appear surprised by the program and they're most keen on how it appears to operate with little oversight. Congressional hearings have also revealed that NSA officials have been lying about the true nature of the program.
Americans are being caught up in the broad strokes of surveillance and this could violate the 4th Amendment rights of millions.
Of course, defenders of the program point to the 50 or more terror attacks they claim the program has foiled. We have no proof that any attacks have been prevented, only the word of program officials.
We have to make decisions about how much classified information and how much covert activity we are willing to tolerate as a society," Obama said.
Yes we do. And to help make that decision, we need the truth, which we're unlikely to get from the current administration, given its track record.
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