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President Obama defended National Security Agency surveillance programs Friday, saying they are designed to promote public safety and protect civil liberties.

“They help us prevent terrorist attacks,” Obama said, and are valuable despite what he called “modest encroachments on privacy.”

Speaking after delivering a health care speech in San Jose, Calif., Obama denounced the “hype” surrounding recent news reports, and said “nobody is listening to your telephone calls” or “reading the e-mails” of U.S. citizens.

People can “complain about Big Brother” and the potential of a “program run amok,” Obama said, “but when you actually look at the details, then I think we’ve struck the right balance.”

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