News / USA

    Obama Defends Secret Surveillance Programs

    Obama Defends Secret Surveillance Programsi
    X
    June 08, 2013 3:06 AM
    The Guardian newspaper reported late Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered various government agencies to prepare for offensive cyberwarfare operations, including drawing up a list of potential overseas targets for U.S. cyber-attacks. It is the third secret U.S. security document to be published by The Guardian in 48 hours. Earlier Friday, Obama offered a spirited defense of secret administration surveillance policies aimed at stopping terrorist attacks. The president was responding to the news reports about programs that secretly scan through phone records and Internet activity that have outraged privacy advocates. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Obama Defends Secret Surveillance Programs
    The Guardian newspaper reported late Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered various government agencies to prepare for offensive cyberwarfare operations, including drawing up a list of potential overseas targets for U.S. cyber-attacks.

    It is the third secret U.S. security document to be published by The Guardian in 48 hours. Earlier Friday, Obama offered a spirited defense of secret administration surveillance policies aimed at stopping terrorist attacks. The president was responding to the news reports about programs that secretly scan through phone records and Internet activity that have outraged privacy advocates.

    Obama put forward his defense of the secret surveillance programs when asked by a reporter during a health care event in California.

    “My assessment and my team's assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks, and the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content, that on net it was worth us doing,” he said.

    Revelations that the administration has been secretly accessing phone records and scouring the servers of Internet providers for possible terror links set off a wave of outrage among privacy advocates.

    Elizabeth Goitein, of the Brennan Center for Justice, said that scouring millions of phone records and Internet activity is ineffective.

    “I’m willing to wager that vacuuming up millions and millions of Americans’ metadata is not a good way to find terrorists. I’m sure people in the administration will tell me otherwise, but there are experts out here, and there are people in law enforcement, who say that a more targeted approach is the better approach,” said Goitein.

    But many U.S. lawmakers have known about the secret programs for years, and they have remained supportive, including the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein of California.

    “We’ve got to examine ways to be able to get data. That can prevent plots from hatching and Americans from being killed,” she said.

    Obama said the revelations about the secret programs have sparked a renewed debate on reconciling national security and civil liberties, a debate he said he welcomes.

    “You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We are going to have to make some choices,” he said.

    Members of Congress are promising to hold hearings to find out more about the secret programs.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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    Comments
         
    by: Percy
    June 09, 2013 5:46 AM
    Get use to this program - if it stops events like 9/11 or worse, it is justified. It may just be the deciding factor that protects many innocent people. Other data storage devices are available with encryption. Facebook? that's one's personal choice, personally I dont recommend it, scary where it can go to and who controls it? In short dont put your "life" out there for "a stranger on the line"

    by: Geeks from: WA
    June 08, 2013 4:35 PM
    There is nothing to be defended here. This is what you call police state. Period!

    And it's not new since the media has always reported about abuses from China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Tunisia etc..... But what they fail to report is that the champions of "civil rights & liberty" and the ones that violate those rights 24x7.

    I have been using online storage for personal data trusting the likes Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft etc... Imagine now that the NSA agent who unilaterally decides to steal my information sells it to Wikileaks or to Russian cybercriminals and they use it to further destroy me. Who's responsible for the theft at the end of the day?
    the government and corporate America that I was trusting!!!
    This is a criminal act against the citizens and can by no means be portrayed as a security measure. It's a breach of trust. Imagine for one second posting all details of your life on Facebook and they decide that transfer all your data to a 3rd party without your consent!!! This is the worst crime I can think of.

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