Now, the programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press are secret in the sense that they're classified. But they're not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program. With respect to all these programs, the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs. These are programs that have been authorized by broad bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006.
And so, I think at the outset, it's important to understand that your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we're doing. Now, let me take the two issues separately.
When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content. But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism. If these folks -- if the intelligence community then actually wants to listen to a phone call, they've got to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation.
So I want to be very clear -- some of the hype that we’ve been hearing over the last day or so -- nobody is listening to the content of people's phone calls. This program, by the way, is fully overseen not just by Congress, but by the FISA Court -- a court specially put together to evaluate classified programs to make sure that the executive branch, or government generally, is not abusing them, and that it's being carried out consistent with the Constitution and rule of law. And so, not only does that court authorize the initial gathering of data, but -- I want to repeat -- if anybody in government wanted to go further than just that topline data and want to, for example, listen to Jackie Calmes’ phone call, they would have to go back to a federal judge and indicate why, in fact, they were doing further probing."
(Tr. Statement of President Obama, June 7, 2013, last viewed June 9, 2013, at .)
Terrance Brown (Ft. Marshall Dore Louis, United States District Court Southern District of Florida & United States of America) – Motion to Compel Production of Phone Records