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President Barack Obama Weekly Address May 30, 2015 (Video/Trascript )
President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House May 30, 2015
Hi, everybody. As President and Commander in Chief, my
greatest responsibility is the safety of the American people. And in our
fight against terrorists, we need to use every effective tool at our
disposal -- both to defend our security and to protect the freedoms and
civil liberties enshrined in our Constitution.
But tomorrow -- Sunday, at midnight -- some important
tools we use against terrorists will expire. That’s because Congress has
not renewed them, and because legislation that would -- the USA Freedom
Act -- is stuck in the Senate. I want to be very clear about what this
Today, when investigating terrorist networks, our national
security professionals can seek a court order to obtain certain
business records. Our law enforcement professionals can seek a roving
wiretap to keep up with terrorists when they switch cell phones. We can
seek a wiretap on so-called lone wolves -- suspected terrorists who may
not be directly tied to a terrorist group. These tools are not
controversial. Since 9/11, they have been renewed numerous times. FBI
Director James Comey says they are “essential” and that losing them
would “severely” impact terrorism investigations. But if Congress
doesn’t act by tomorrow at midnight, these tools go away as well.
The USA Freedom Act also accomplishes something I called
for a year and a half ago: it ends the bulk metadata program -- the bulk
collection of phone records -- as it currently exists and puts in place
new reforms. The government will no longer hold these records;
telephone providers will. The Act also includes other changes to our
surveillance laws -- including more transparency -- to help build
confidence among the American people that your privacy and civil
liberties are being protected. But if Congress doesn’t act by midnight
tomorrow, these reforms will be in jeopardy, too.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The USA Freedom Act
reflects ideas from privacy advocates, our private sector partners and
our national security experts. It already passed the House of
Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support -- Republicans and
Democrats. A majority of the Senate -- Republicans and Democrats -- have
voted to move it forward.
So what’s the problem? A small group of senators is
standing in the way. And, unfortunately, some folks are trying to use
this debate to score political points. But this shouldn’t and can't be
about politics. This is a matter of national security. Terrorists like
al Qaeda and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at
midnight tomorrow. And we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep
us safe. It would be irresponsible. It would be reckless. And we
shouldn’t allow it to happen.
So today, I’m calling on Americans to join me in speaking
with one voice to the Senate. Put the politics aside. Put our national
security first. Pass the USA Freedom Act -- now. And let’s protect the
security and civil liberties of every American. Thanks very much.