In a free country, debate about our policies is crucial. We understand that in the US intelligence community. The American public have the right to question their government and demand answers. But as we discuss NSA surveillance programs, I want to make one thing perfectly clear to you: These efforts are necessary to our security, and they are working. They're the main reason the NSA has managed to stop or cover up countless terrorist attacks in the years since 9/11.
Other law enforcement techniques have played a role, sure. I'm not saying there's no way we would have stopped the second New York subway attack without gathering phone data. Or even have been able to suppress the existence of the first one without Prism. We're pretty determined. But I am telling you it would be difficult. The odds would be greater.
Do you want that? Do you really want to make it more likely that an al-Qaeda operative could successfully kill thousands of people without us thwarting him or at least relocating all the witnesses to a facility in Utah? It seems right to stand up for freedom, but you need to think about the real-world choices here. Lives, and also professional reputations, are at stake. These groups are not going to just go away. They're right here, planning to strike. Especially since last year's invasion of Syria (You'll hear more about it soon, but the short version is that things got out of hand, and now some other groups in that part of the world are feeling grumpy about the US. They particularly dislike port cities -- go figure.)
We have a job to prevent Americans from being injured, killed, or panicked with information by our enemies around the world. We can't do this without every citizen pitching in.
In some cases doing your part is as simple as closing your eyes.