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Obama's NSA Proposals Fall Far Short of Real Change
« on: January 17, 2014, 12:04:30 PM »
http://www.nationaljournal.com/white-house/obama-s-nsa-proposals-fall-far-short-of-real-change-20140117

Obama's NSA Proposals Fall Far Short of Real Change
The White House's tepid plan aims to calm the public, not curtail the government's surveillance programs.


By James Oliphant

January 17, 2014



The White House promised Friday that it was ending the NSA's most controversial surveillance program "as it currently exists." But make no mistake, it's still going to exist.

In fact, what President Obama has announced will have little operational effect on the National Security Agency's collection of Americans' data. And, significantly, the administration has attempted to dodge some of the biggest decisions, passing the ball to Congress, which will likely do nothing if recent trends hold.

Much of the attention in the run-up to the speech involved the NSA's retention and search of so-called "metadata"-- calling records, including calls made by U.S. citizens, that help the government identify potential terrorist relationships. And the president didn't come close to what privacy advocates have wanted – a sharp culling of the program or its outright termination.

Instead, the goal of Friday's announcement – as it has always been – was to reassure a skittish public both here and abroad that the program is being used responsibly. "This is a capability that needs to be preserved," a senior administration official said.

After Friday, keep in mind how the status quo has, or has not, been altered:

1) The phone metadata still exists.

2) It will be kept, at least in the short-term, by the government until Congress figures out what to do with it. (And don't think the telecom lobby won't play a role in that.)

3) It will be searched.

4) Searches will be approved by a court with a record of being friendly to the government, one without a new privacy advocate.

5) National Security Letters can still be issued by the FBI without a court order.

5) Much of this activity will remain secret.

The president made two major policy prescriptions. First, he called for the data to be housed somewhere other than within the government. Second, he said before the NSA can search the calling-record database, it should obtain judicial approval.

To the first, the president would not specify where the data will be ultimately stored. He wants the Justice Department and the intelligence community to come up with a proposal within 60 days. The administration is reluctant to force telecom providers to house the data, both because of logistical problems and because the industry wants nothing to do with it. Some have suggested creating a private consortium – but that will take time. And if it proves that there is no better place to keep the data, it well could remain with the U.S. government. (Sounds a little like GITMO.)

To the second of Obama's measures, judicial oversight will come in the form of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which critics say acts as a rubber-stamp for government surveillance requests, rather than by more independent-minded federal judges on other courts. The Wall Street Journal last year estimated the court rejects less than 1 percent of all requests, while the chief judge of court has maintained that it sends back up to 25 percent. Either way, the overwhelming majority of requests are granted unimpeded, particularly when the requests are time-sensitive.

Tellingly, the president rejected a recommendation from an outside panel to establish a "public advocate" inside the court to represent privacy interests. Instead, he wants an outside group of experts to consult on cutting-edge legal matters, not on day-to-day surveillance requests.

Yes, the FISA court review adds an extra step to the process (one that may frustrate counter-terror hawks), but it likely will do little to restrain the NSA. (The president is taking one concrete step, limiting searches to two "hops" away from a subject's phone number, not three.)

The president also rejected a recommendation that so-called "national security letters" used by the FBI to obtain business records from investigation targets be subject to judicial approval, after the Bureau objected to the idea.

Most important, many of the recommendations the president made Friday are perishable. Ultimately Congress will have to determine the data collection and storage issues and other major elements of the program, including the procedures of the FISA court, when it reauthorizes the NSA program this spring at the end of the 60-day window outlined by the president.

And it's possible Congress could choose to keep it in its current form, officials concede.

Senior administration officials maintain that none of these surveillance programs have been abused – and that they remain a valuable tool in combating national-security threats (despite little evidence the metadata program has played a direct role in foiling an attack). It's why President Obama was quick to mention the 9/11 attacks in his remarks Friday. And it's why, in his mind, reform could really only go so far.

As it turned it, it wasn't very far at all.


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Online mystery-ak

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Re: Obama's NSA Proposals Fall Far Short of Real Change
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2014, 12:08:46 PM »
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obama_announces_nsa_changes_phone_records_foreign_leaders?utm_content=buffere73a6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Obama: NSA Will Change Phone Data Collection, Stop Monitoring Foreign Leaders

 Catherine Thompson – January 17, 2014, 11:53 AM EST20

President Barack Obama on Friday outlined specific changes he was recommending the National Security Agency make to two of its most contested practices: its phone records collection program and its surveillance of foreign leaders.

Obama's first concrete recommendation addressed the NSA's phone records collection program, authorized under section 215 of the Patriot Act. While he emphasized that the program does not examine the records of ordinary Americans and that the review board found no evidence the phone records program was abused, he announced the program would be altered.

"I believe we need a new approach," the President said, according to his prepared remarks. "I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk metadata program as it currently exists, and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk meta-data."

The President ordered that records only be examined if a contact is two, rather than three, steps removed from a phone number connected to a suspected terrorist organization. He also suggested the NSA work with Attorney General Eric Holder to reform its phone records collection program before it comes up for reauthorization by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on March 28.

The revelation that the NSA was monitoring the communications of dozens of foreign leaders also roiled the international community. In addition to ordering an end to the surveillance of foreign leaders, Obama announced he would extend certain privacy protections that U.S. citizens enjoy to individuals overseas.

"The bottom line is that people around the world – regardless of their nationality – should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security, and that we take their privacy concerns into account. This applies to foreign leaders as well," he said, according to his prepared remarks. "Given the understandable attention that this issue has received, I have made clear to the intelligence community that – unless there is a compelling national security purpose – we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies."

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Re: Obama's NSA Proposals Fall Far Short of Real Change
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2014, 12:49:09 PM »
http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=3021EA3A-A57A-4154-AD3B-F30B68EF081C

 Rand Paul ‘disappointed’ by Obama NSA proposal
By: Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim
January 17, 2014 12:26 PM EST

Rand Paul was buoyed Friday that President Barack Obama is spotlighting the NSA’s sweeping telephone metadata but is “disappointed in the details” of the president’s proposed reforms.

Immediately after Obama’s speech at the Justice Department, the Kentucky senator said that Obama’s changes to the program will amount to “the same unconstitutional program with a new configuration.” Among the most significant reforms proposed by the president include pushing data storage to the private sector and asking Congress to create public advocates to monitor the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

“The Fourth Amendment requires an individualized warrant based on probable cause before the government can search phone records and e-mails,” Paul said. “I intend to continue the fight to restore Americans rights through my Fourth Amendment Restoration Act and my legal challenge against the NSA. The American people should not expect the fox to guard the hen house.”



But other fierce critics of the NSA program are pleased by the changes.

“After my years of bipartisan work and ongoing efforts, President Obama took big steps forward today on NSA reform,” Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) wrote on Twitter.

Obama announced on Friday a series of sweeping reforms to controversial surveillance programs intended to curtail the trove of information controlled by the federal government. The reforms call for ultimately moving the metadata from millions of Americans into the private sector and are a response to the NSA’s bulk collection programs first unveiled by former contractor Edward Snowden.



Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Congress now bears the responsibility of shepherding many of these key reforms.

“As the debate moves to Congress, I’m prepared to work on a bipartisan basis to implement the reforms proposed by the president and indeed go farther, and to ensure that our intelligence and surveillance activities protect our country while holding true to the values that have made our nation worth protecting,” Schiff said in a statement.

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Offline Chieftain

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Re: Obama's NSA Proposals Fall Far Short of Real Change
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2014, 01:23:46 PM »
What about the very real risks to people's personal data from being compromised by hackers attacking the Obamacare website??


Offline flowers

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Re: Obama's NSA Proposals Fall Far Short of Real Change
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2014, 04:53:52 PM »
the only thing they will change is how to make it more easier to get info on their political enemies for the midterms



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