The National Security Agency's data surveillance programs discussed in recent media reports "help us prevent terrorist attacks," President Barack Obama said Friday in San Jose, California. He added that "modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration ... without looking at content" are worth the result.
"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," Obama said in his first public remarks on the controversy. "What the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They're not looking at people's names, and they're not looking at content, but by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify certain leads that" might help authorities disrupt potential terrorist plans.
Obama said the programs are not secret in the respect that "every member of Congress has been briefed" on the phone data program, and the relevant intelligence committees have been briefed on a ll the programs.
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