SAN JOSE - President Barack Obama this morning vigorously defended recently-unveiled classified programs that allow U.S. intelligence agencies to capture huge amounts of telephone call data as well as monitor email and internet traffic.
Speaking to reporters before he flies to Southern California for a meeting with the Chinese president Xi Jinping, Obama emphatically stated that no agency or government employee "is listening to your telephone calls."
Congress and a special federal court have long authorized the programs, and continue to oversee it, he said. Furthermore, some constraints were placed on them by the Obama administration after it took office in 2009. The benefit of the programs is to look for patterns that could identify potential terrorists threats, he added.
"There are some tradeoffs involved" between the need to thwart terrorism and civil liberties, the president said. Given that all three branches of the federal government are aware of and have authorized the programs, the American people should trust they will not be abused, he added.
AP video: Obama: 'Nobody Is Listening to Your Phone Calls'
PHOTO: President Barack Obama gestures during a statement about the Affordable Care Act, Friday, June 7, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. AP Photo/Evan Vucci