Obama: If You Trust Congress, Trust the NSA
In what may be the worst sales pitch in history, President Obama says, “”If people don’t trust the executive branch, and also congress and the judicial branch, then we’re going to have some problems here.”
National Journal (“President Obama: If You Trust Your Congress, Trust in the NSA Data Collection“):
On Friday afternoon, President Obama responded for the first time to the revelations of various National Security Agency data gathering programs—from recording all call records in and outside of the United States, to the PRISM program, which reportedly taps into the data streams of some of the largest data hosting companies in the country.
Here’s the gist: Although you, the citizens, have not heard of this, we have substantial oversight on these programs involving every branch of government. Legislators have been briefed (in regards to the telephone data, he said all members knew), and “if anybody in government wanted to go further than that top-line data … they would have to go back to a federal judge,” Obama said.
Basically, if you trust the system, you should trust us.
“In the abstract you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok,” the president said. “But if you look at the details … I think we have struck a nice balance.” The president also reassured that “no one is listening to your telephone calls” and that although he came into office with “a healthy skepticism about these programs,” he is reassured that they don’t overreach. “The modest encroachments on privacy that are involved … it was worth us doing,” he said.
TIME (“President Obama Defends NSA Surveillance Programs As ‘Right Balance”“):
President Barack Obama issued a strong statement in support Friday for the controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs that have been disclosed to the press in recent days.
“You can’t have 100 percent security and also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” he continued. “We’re going to have to make some choices as a society. On balance we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should be comfortable about.”
“If people don’t trust the executive branch, and also congress and the judicial branch, then we’re going to have some problems here,” Obama admitted.
Presumably, the man hasn’t seen the polls. Approval of Congress in particular is in the single digits.
Snark aside, I tend to side with the president here, albeit with a lot of caveats. But if he’s banking on people’s trust in Congress, he’s barking up the wrong tree.