President Obama defended two National Security Agency programs Monday even though they have contributed to his falling poll numbers and have become a distraction for his administration, The Hill
Obama explained his position in an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose, saying that "we don't have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security. That's a false choice."
However, according to the transcript obtained by Buzzfeed
, the president said that there are "trade-offs," defending a statement he made June 7 that there had to be a balance between privacy and safety.
"So all of us make a decision that we go through a whole bunch of security at airports, which when we were growing up that wasn't the case," Obama said. "To say there's a trade-off doesn't mean somehow that we've abandoned freedom."
Obama says that he has actually added safeguards to protect privacy, and tried to explain that there are differences between his policies and those of the Bush administration. Critics say he has continued with many of his predecessor's policies, despite campaign promises to change.
"Some people say, 'Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he's, you know, Dick Cheney,'" the President said. "Dick Cheney sometimes says, 'Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel.'
"My concern has always been not that we shouldn't do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather, are we setting up a system of checks and balances?" Obama said.
After Obama explained that the FBI has to get a warrant if it wants to get the content of a phone call, Rose questioned if those requests are ever turned down.
"The number of requests are surprisingly small ... No. 1," Obama explained. "No. 2, folks don't go with a query unless they've got a pretty good suspicion."
He argued that the NSA programs are "transparent," but he put the blame for the lack of knowledge about the programs on Congress.
"So, on this telephone program, you've got a federal court with independent federal judges overseeing the entire program," he said. "And you've got Congress overseeing the program, not just the intelligence committee and not just the judiciary committee, but all of Congress had available to it before the last re-authorization exactly how this program works."
This interview comes after it was reported Monday that the president's approval rating fell a shocking 8 percentage points
following the revelation of the NSA surveillance programs.
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