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Secretary Kerry Defends NSA Program, 'Welcomes' Dept. Scrutiny

State Department photo/ Public Domain(WASHINGTON) -- At a joint press conference Wednesday with United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the National Security Agency, saying that Congress understands the program, passed it and voted for it several times. He also said the judiciary branch has also reviewed it and the program and has been actively engaged.

“This is a three-branch-of-government effort to keep America safe. And in fact, it has not read emails or looked at or listened to conversations, and -- the exception of where a court may have made some decision, which was predicated on appropriate evidence,” said Kerry.

Kerry called the efforts of the domestic and international law enforcement community “valiant” and said the program has protected Americans “in remarkable ways to prevent some very terrible events from taking place.”

“I think they have done so in a remarkable balance of the values of our nation with respect to privacy, freedom and the Constitution. And I think, over time, this will withstand scrutiny, and people will understand that,” said Kerry.

The secretary also spoke about the controversy over the independent investigator memo and draft report accusing the State Department of interfering with investigations of serious or criminal wrongdoing by State employees, including a sitting ambassador. Kerry said he “welcomes” the scrutiny.

“I can tell you, as a former prosecutor, I take very seriously an investigative process, and I am confident that the OIG's process, where he has invited outsiders to come and review whatever took place a year ago, will be reviewed. And I welcome that. I think the department welcomes that, because we do want the highest standards applied," he said.

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