Obama Defends Surveillance: In Rare Acknowledgment of Antiterror Tactics, President Cites ‘Modest Encroachments’ in Name of Security

President Barack Obama, in a rare public acknowledgment of secret efforts to combat terrorism, on Friday defended a pair of highly classified surveillance programs as necessary to protect Americans at the price of only “modest encroachments” on personal privacy.The techniques that intelligence agents use to gather data about phone calls and certain foreign Internet communications — which were discussed in news reports this week — have been vetted by the courts and Congress, Mr. Obama said. But he added that he would welcome a national debate on whether his administration had tilted too far in the direction of tighter security at the expense of basic civil liberties.
http://asia.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324299104578531742264893564.htmlAlso see:Obama Calls Surveillance Programs Legal and Limited
President Obama offered a robust defense of newly revealed surveillance programs on Friday as more classified secrets spilled into public, complicating a summit meeting with China’s new president focused partly on human rights and cybersecurity.Mr. Obama departed from his script at a health care event in California to try to reassure Americans that he had not abused government authority by collecting telephone call logs and foreigners’ e-mail messages. But the disclosure hours later of secret contingency planning to target other countries for possible cyberattacks made his get-together with President Xi Jinping later in the day all the more awkward because cyberattacks by the Chinese are high on the American agenda.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/08/us/national-security-agency-surveillance.htmlObama undergoes a philosophical shift on counterterrorism surveillance
As a junior senator with presidential aspirations, Barack Obama built his persona in large part around opposition to Bush administration counterterrorism policies, and he sponsored a bill in 2005 that would have sharply limited the government’s ability to spy on U.S. citizens.That younger Obama bears little resemblance to the commander in chief who stood on a stage here Friday, justifying broad programs targeting phone records and Internet activities as vital tools to prevent terrorist attacks and protect innocent Americans.
www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-strives-for-pragmatic-compromises-on-counterterrorism-surveillance/2013/06/07/f8ee4302-cf88-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.htmlObama defends sweeping surveillance efforts
President Obama on Friday defended the government’s collection of data on the phone records of millions of Americans, saying that it was a modest encroachment on privacy and one he thinks is both lawful and justified in order to identify terrorists plotting to attack the United States.Obama emphasized that the government does not collect information on individual callers or eavesdrop on Americans’ conversations without a warrant. He said he would welcome a debate on the classified surveillance effort as well as the previously secret workings of a second program that gathers the e-mails and other digital content of targeted foreigners outside the United States from major American Internet companies.
www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-defends-sweeping-surveillance-efforts/2013/06/07/2002290a-cf88-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.htmlU.S. Internet Spying Draws Anger, and Envy
Europe’s reaction Friday to news of a sweeping international digital surveillance program by the U.S. government ranged from the outrage of citizens and politicians to the muted envy of some law enforcement agencies on this side of the Atlantic.Privacy is an emotional issue in Europe, where memories of state-sponsored snooping by communist and fascist regimes still linger. And so the revelation Thursday that the U.S. National Security Agency had obtained routine access to e-mail, Web searches and other online data from many of the biggest U.S. Internet companies — whose users stretch far beyond U.S. shores — prompted hand-wringing about America’s moral authority.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/08/business/global/us-internet-spying-draws-anger-and-envy.htmlTech Companies Concede to Surveillance Program
When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world’s largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit.Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. They opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. And in some cases, they changed their computer systems to do so.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/08/technology/tech-companies-bristling-concede-to-government-surveillance-efforts.htmlAdministration Says Mining of Data Is Crucial to Fight Terror
In early September 2009, an e-mail passed through an Internet address in Peshawar, Pakistan, that was being monitored by the vast computers controlled by American intelligence analysts. It set off alarms. The address, linked to senior Qaeda operatives, had been dormant for months.Investigators worked their way backward and traced the e-mail to an address in Aurora, Colo., outside Denver. It took them to Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old former coffee cart operator, who was asking a Qaeda facilitator about how to mix ingredients for a flour-based explosive, according to law enforcement officials. A later e-mail read: “The marriage is ready” — code that a major attack was planned.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/08/us/mining-of-data-is-called-crucial-to-fight-terror.htmlCivil liberties: GCHQ and the American data trough
The Guardian’s Prism documents raise questions about US-UK intelligence-gathering, including that from British citizens, which should urgently be debated in parliamentGiving evidence to parliament’s intelligence and security committee last year, the head of the UK Government Communications Headquarters made a simple statement. “Communications data is extremely helpful to us,” he told the committee in a closed hearing. Given GCHQ’s function is to eavesdrop on electronic communications here and around the world, Sir Iain Lobban’s words may seem a statement of the obvious. But this rare comment by the head of an agency whose stock in trade is global online and telephone-derived intelligence helps to illuminate why the Guardian’s latest allegations about US government data-trawling have now firmly crossed the Atlantic, requiring serious public answers not just from American officials but now from British ones too.

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