Obama has room to maneuver on NSA reforms
January 14th, 2014
03:02 PM ET

Obama has room to maneuver on NSA reforms

By Matthew Hoye

President Barack Obama has some room to maneuver in crafting reforms to the National Security Agency’s massive data collection program.

A national security expert tells CNN that the President, in fact, has “a lot of leeway in terms of what to recommend and not  recommend.”

Obama is expected to announce changes to the surveillance initiative at a speech at the Justice Department on Friday .

An independent review ordered by Obama amid concerns that NSA snooping, revealed in leaks by Edward Snowden last year, had gone too far recommended that government do a better job of protecting civil liberties.

The choice Obama makes will permanently place his signature on the intelligence initiative and help define his legacy as a chief executive who promised a more open and transparent government when he entered the White House five years ago.

NSA domestic and international phone and e-mail surveillance is considered some of the most widespread intelligence gathering performed by the U.S. government.

Karen Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School in New York, believes Obama will  probably err on the side of transparency,

“This is a President who, despite his critics and despite his wanting to keep some things secret, has always wanted to be seen as a President who embraces transparency,” Greenberg said.

She said Obama faces “the tenor” of the public, which seems to indicate that “there is a trend toward wanting to restrain the powers of the intelligence community.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday that the Obama administration wants to be as transparent as possible.

“We are talking about intelligence gathering and there are, almost by definition, aspects of it that have to remain secret in order to be effective. But there should be, in the President's view, steps that we can take to build confidence about the way these programs are administered,” Carney said.

Greenberg said steps going forward most likely will include implementing some recommendations from the review.

She predicted he will order private companies to assume  responsibility for storing private data, which the government could not access unless requested.

Greenberg said Obama also may recommend establishing an adversarial legal process to protect civil liberties.

For example, when the government asks for court approval to collect data or other information, some kind of board or person could be tapped “to fight for the other side for the right to privacy – the right not to be surveilled and to have the government have your information if there is not some standard of cause to do so.”

Greenberg said Obama could also adopt ”the strengthening of a civil liberties and privacy protection board to make sure there is an ongoing conversation on the proper balance between liberty and security when it comes to the  issue of surveillance.”

Carney said Monday that Obama had not yet finalized his  recommendations.

He said the President’s goal is to give the public “more confidence” in NSA programs and demonstrate “that they are  pursued in a way that meets the standard the President set, which is that we do what we should do in order to keep the American people safe and the country safe and our allies safe, not just what we can do because we have the capacity to do it.“

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soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Hawkeye07

    That's right – a huge sck of sht.

    January 20, 2014 at 11:31 am | Reply
  2. Hawkeye07

    This sck of sht always has room to maneuver. Why can't he lead?

    January 20, 2014 at 11:29 am | Reply
  3. farquhar1623

    Well said. Just business as usual while attempting to put lipstick on a pig. Although in this instance the pig would likely look better.

    January 18, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Reply
  4. fthomascain

    This president is like Big Brother in the Orwellian novel 1984 and we are going to trust this control freak, narcissist and compulsive liar?

    January 18, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  5. Nytrht Hjgfbhgfd

    You can't do it you cannot have X-MAS without Cha Cha Cha -(C-H-I-N-A-)-.

    January 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  6. Nytrht Hjgfbhgfd

    Do not have a motgage Do not talk too any Gov. Employee or representative or contractor about anything...

    January 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  7. Nytrht Hjgfbhgfd

    Do not talk too or allow people with forms of broken American English to have any Control over you...

    January 16, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  8. Nytrht Hjgfbhgfd

    Don't buy anything and do not Watch movies or listen too Music...

    January 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  9. Nytrht Hjgfbhgfd

    The Military in there work in the Military industrial complex e.g. Congress will never ever again give anyone anywhere so unlucky too be a Citizen any choice in anything ever...it is History...you are not imagining your disapointment...it is as real as the day is long...I say: stop living a lie. Don't Vote Don't work Don't invest Don't have Children Don't Donate money Don't Campaign Don't Watch T.V. Don't listen too Radio and don't allow anyone anywhere too tell you that You are Wrong.

    January 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  10. You Got It

    And this is the truth:
    The choice Obama makes will permanently place his signature on the intelligence initiative and help define his legacy as a chief executive who promised a more open and transparent government when he entered the White House five years ago.
    Where is the transparency?!?!?!? If Obama sides with the NSA, I swear I am voting Republican Party all the way from now on. I am SO dissapointed with having supported both Obama and the DNC – all we've gotten are lies and more lies (IRS, Benghazi, NSA, Govt Shutdown, ObamaCare, etc). Jobs are down, unemployment is up – and the media continues supporting the current administration, no matter what. Where is the objectivity? It's all partisan anymore!!!

    January 16, 2014 at 11:08 am | Reply
  11. Thbgbg Bterhyt

    Sensorship is in full effect now.

    January 15, 2014 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  12. Benjamin Franklin

    I am guess the heavy lifting for domestic spying will be dealt off to FBI which indeed has specifically changed it's mission to "domestic intelligence". That way NSA is off the hot seat and FBI can continue crushing dissent and criticism of the government as it always has.

    They call it Hoovering, which has a double meaning when it comes to FBI.

    January 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  13. usxpatriate

    You should all go to youtube and search for "30c3 To Protect and Infect" If you think you know how you are being watched you need to watch this. Inform yourselves.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:08 am | Reply
    • usxpatriate

      BTW, I forgot to mention that the video is not some rant, it's part of tech conference discussing the NSA and it's programs.

      January 15, 2014 at 4:29 am | Reply
  14. Madmax

    Actually the surveillance of NSA is not working. Just yesterday, a prominent media (RT) pointed out that NSA collected data from millions of people (American), claimed to have unearthed around 250 cases of terrorism, but with deeper probe it was found that actually only 1 actual case where NSA successfully neutralized any terrorism attempt. So it will be difficult for White house to defend the utility of NSA & its invasive surveillance.

    January 15, 2014 at 3:40 am | Reply
    • usxpatriate

      It is working perfectly. the excuse to fight terrorism is just another lie. Watch "30c3 To Protect and Infect" your smart you can find it easily. I think you may be surprised. Don't worry, its not some rant it's a real disclosure of the NSA's abilities and suspected agenda's

      January 15, 2014 at 4:11 am | Reply
  15. Smitty

    Geez, you cant make this stuff up, More lip service from the inept one. We are now the butt end for jokes due to Obammys failures. Too many to count.

    January 14, 2014 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  16. Damn Beers

    Mr. Vietnam knows how to work a room but not a country. Send him home so he doesn't start World War Three!

    January 14, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  17. George patton

    Before Obama maneuvers on any NSA "reforms", he needs to exonerate Edward Snowden above all! We have far too many crooks on Capitol Hill getting away with far too much so it would be extremely unfair to condemn Snowden after he did us all a great service!!!

    January 14, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  18. shehar39

    No he does not have any room.. he will say he is putting more oversite.. and meanwhile do nothing

    January 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Reply

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