President Obama defended two recently revealed surveillance programs that have U.S. officials examining phone and computer records, saying "modest encroachments on privacy" are necessary to counter terrorist threats.
"We're going to have to make some choices as a society," Obama said, who said he was initially skeptical of the government programs when he took office. "In evaluating these programs, they make a difference in helping us to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity."
Obama, who spoke at a health care event, insisted that both programs are continually reviewed by Congress and a federal court: "When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program," he said. "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."
He insisted that "nobody is listening to your telephone calls" and that with respect to the Internet and e-mails surveillance, it doesn't apply to U.S. citizens or people living in the United States.
McClatchy Washington Bureau