In a Friday morning press conference in San Jose, Calif., President Obama took the stage to respond to criticism about the recently-unmasked phone surveillance program. The leaked court order sparked widespread privacy concerns and rapid-fire questions about the breadth of the program, forcing the executive branch on the defensive. Obama defended the National Security Agency’s power to collect mobile phone data, stressing that it’s solely for counter-terrorism purposes.
President Obama stressed the balance between security and freedom, explaining that the onus for oversight of the program is on Congress.
Obama was firm in highlighting that the NSA phone surveillance initiative is not a “Big Brother” program, incorporating “metadata” such as call time and location but involving no actual listening to
Video from 2005 of then-Senator Barack Obama criticizing the Patriot Act.