[UPDATE: it appears he has answered these questions, and he’s simply not getting the message out effectively. Here’s my latest post on this topic: https://danielmiessler.com/blog/obamas-clear-response-to-the-monitoring-scandals ]
Mr. President, I have been with you all the way, and if you have a reason to OVERTLY break your promises on security to us–with the blatant monitoring of Americans, with the failure to close Gitmo, with the expansion of the Patriot Act–then tell me.
Say it. Say the words. Give me an explanation. You owe us one. Here, let me help:
I want to respond to the criticism I’m seeing right now regarding the difference you’re seeing between my stance on the balance between security and freedoms before and after my election. In short, I was extremely naive about the dangers that were threatening us, and without giving you specific threats that we’re dealing with, I can only ask you to trust that I would not be allowing such extreme security measures without the corresponding belief that they are absolutely necessary.
I am truly sorry for not being more clear about this up until now. The truth is that we are in an unprecedented amount of danger, and the tools that I wish we needed–as someone who like you wants to guard our cherished civil liberties–are not the tools we actually need, and I truly believe that without these expanded powers we would not be sufficiently safe. As an explicit compensating control I am introducing the following provisions (x, y, z) to ensure that they are 100% temporary, and that they require extraordinary contortions to extend or expand.
Um, so, I actually might have given Obama too little credit here, and simultaneously underestimated the media manipulation abilities of his enemies. This response below is rather strong, and is EXACTLY what I was looking for:
So in summary, what you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved (on them ?). Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout. And we’re also setting up — we’ve also set up an audit process when I came into office to make sure that we’re, after the fact, making absolutely certain that all the safeguards are being properly observed.
Now, having said all that, you’ll remember when I made that speech a couple of weeks ago about the need for us to shift out of a perpetual war mindset. I specifically said that one of the things that we’re going to have to discuss and debate is how were we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy, because there are some trade-offs involved.
And I welcome this debate. And I think it’s healthy for our democracy. I think it’s a sign of maturity, because probably five years ago, six years ago, we might not have been having this debate. And I think it’s interesting that there are some folks on the left, but also some folks on the right who are now worried about it who weren’t very worried about it when it was a Republican president. I think that’s good that we’re having this discussion.
But I think it’s important for everybody to understand, and I think the American people understand, that there are some trade-offs involved. You know, I came in with a health skepticism about these programs. My team evaluated them. We scrubbed them thoroughly. We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards. But my assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks. And the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content — that on, you know, net, it was worth us doing.
Read the whole thing.