In response to shouted questions about the revelations this week that the NSA has been collecting phone call metadata and internet everything from American citizens, President Obama said some things that are probably going to make you feel sad inside.
Rather than dwell on preamble, here are some choice quotes from the session, wherein we learned that the President of the United States is totally cool with your privacy being shot to smithereens without your knowing for the last, say, six years. And a one and a two and a:
- "Every member of Congress has been briefed on this program."
- "What you've got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress and repeatedly authorized by Congress."
- "These are programs that have been authorized by broad bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006."
- "You can't have 100-percent security and then have 100-percent privacy."
- "I don't welcome leaks, there's a reason these programs are classified."
- "There are some tradeoffs involved."
- "Modest encroachments on privacy."
- "Your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we're doing."
So just to be clear: It's okay because we've known about it all along. In other words:
It's true that there are trade-offs involved between security and privacy. No one's arguing that. But the presumption that what Americans are concerned about is that PRISM wasn't overseen enough is lunacy. If anything, the fact that everyone has known exactly what's going on this whole time makes it even worse than we had possibly imagined.