As soon as the reports broke of the extensive surveillance net handled by NSA, government functionaries have jumped to the agency’s support. First, the Director of National Intelligence vehemently defended NSA, and now President Obama has stated that whatever NSA is doing is constitutional and regulated by state bodies.
It is rather disappointing to note that the government seems absolutely unmoved over the entire PRISM scandal. Not only that, government officials are coming up with implausible and absurd claims in order to justify NSA-backed surveillance.
Responding to the uproar that was a result of Guardian’s leaks about NSA’s PRISM program, President Obama issued a statement, “When I came into this office, I made two commitments that are more important than any other. Number one, to keep the American people safe. And number two, to uphold the constitution and constitutional rights to privacy and to civil liberties. These programs are secret in the sense that they’re classified. But they’re not secret in the sense that—when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed.”
He went on to affirm that whatever actions NSA takes are fully sanctioned and authorized by multiple branches of the government and that the Congress members are well aware of them.
In his statement, Obama stated that although NSA accesses millions of phone records, it identifies particular users only by gaining permission from a FISA court. The claim seems rather unbelievable since if NSA already have all the information it needs and merely needs to ‘process’ it to identify actual users, it doesn’t make sense for the agency to go to a court before doing so.
Nonetheless, the statement is a hint from the Obama government that NSA will be fully supported on this issue and any criticisms of its initiatives will be actively opposed.