The question of just who, what, where, and when the US government spied on and stored metadata about is moot now... thanks to Edward Snowden; but President Obama will be firing on all his teleprompter-based cylinders today as he explains the "changes" to NSA data collection and the likely "punt" deferrals to Congress:
- HAYDEN SAYS OBAMA MAY 'PUNT' SOME QUESTIONS TO CONGRESS ON NSA
- OBAMA SAID TO ORDER END OF SECTION 215 METADATA PROGRAM (as it currently exists)
- NSA SAID TO NO LONGER KEEP BULK PHONE RECORDS UNDER OBAMA PLAN
Calling for an 'overhaul' of the NSA (seeking input from Congress and intelligence officials) will, we are sure, appease those who cannot believe the 'hope-and-change'-monger could have sanctioned such things; but we suspect little will change in reality.
President Obama is due to speak at 11ET...
President Obama will announce on Friday an overhaul of the controversial National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program that collects the telephone records of American citizens, according to a senior administration official.
Speaking at the Justice Department, Obama will say that he is ordering an end to the telephone metadata “as it currently exists, and move to a program that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk meta-data,” the official said.
But the president will not offer a specific proposal outlining who will store the data in the future. A White House advisory panel suggested in recommendations released last month that the records be maintained by telephone companies or a third party. But companies have been resistant to that idea, fearful that it could sour their relationships with customers and prove expensive.
Obama will instead announce that he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder and members of the intelligence community to find a way to preserve the capabilities of the program without the government holding the metadata, according to the official.
“At the same time, he will consult with the relevant committees in Congress to seek their views,” the official added.
But its unclear whether the president’s proposal will do much to soothe the concerns of privacy advocates, who argue that maintaining the program in some form would do little to satisfy concerns about snooping.
“This shifting of records … would not solve the problem, it would just outsource it and possibly create new ones,” Liza Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, said.
Having the phone companies or third parties hold the data, which can be accessed by the government as it pleases, would allow the government to “essentially launder” its surveillance activities, she said.
Advocates said that the president’s proposed course would mean a greater role for Congress in reforming the surveillance programs.
“If he does fail to take a stand … it will become Congress’ responsibility,” said Kevin Bankston, policy director at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.
“If he does punt to Congress, there are many standing ready” to take on surveillance reform, he said, pointing to bills like the USA Freedom Act by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Patriot Act author Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).