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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the sequester after a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House in Washington March 1, 2013. Obama pressed the U.S. Congress on Friday to avoid a government shutdown when federal spending authority runs

President Obama will likely announce the reforms he intends to make to the National Security Agency next week, and in that decision-making process is meeting with a variety of stakeholders. The emerging consensus is that he is likely to restrict the government's access to private phone records, but that bulk collection won't end.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is expected to rein in spying on foreign leaders and is considering restricting National Security Agency access to Americans' phone records, according to people familiar with a White House review of the government's surveillance programs. [...]

The president also is said to be considering one of the review board's most aggressive recommendations, a proposal to strip the NSA of its ability to store telephone records from millions of Americans and instead have phone companies or a third party hold the records. The NSA would be able to access the records only by obtaining separate court approval for each search, though exceptions could be made in the case of a national security emergency.

Privacy advocates will have what might be their last chance to convince the administration to end bulk collection entirely, Spencer Ackerman reports. Representatives from major privacy and civil libertarian organizations—the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) and the Open Technology Institute—are meeting with White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler to press the case that bulk collection and NSA's essentially unfettered access to that data needs to end. They'll argue for "a higher legal standard for allowing intelligence or law enforcement agencies to access any database of Americans’ phone records, pursuant to a court order ahead of any search except in extreme cases."
Currently the NSA does not have to obtain a court order for any individual search; every 90 days the secret surveillance panel known as the Fisa Court issues omnibus authorizations for bulk collection and analysis based on “reasonable articulable suspicion” of terrorist connections.

“Reasonable articulable suspicion, we still think that’s too vague,” said Michelle Richardson, the ACLU’s surveillance lobbyist.

There are also real problems, the NSA and privacy organizations and telecoms agree, with creating a third-party database from the records telecoms are already collecting. Currently they hold customer information for an average of 18 months before destroying it, while the NSA holds it for five years. Additionally, the companies don't use the same file formats, making creating a single, third-party storehouse a problem. And the NSA and privacy groups agree that a massive, thirdy-party database that held all Americans' data would be a nightmare to keep secure. That's just one of the reasons telecoms don't really want to have the responsibility for the data.

What, of course, makes the most sense is to end mandatory data retention, and to have a much higher bar in the FISA for the NSA, requiring that it prove that “tangible things sought … are relevant and material to an authorized investigation,” and limited to foreign powers, people working for foreign powers and are actually somehow directly associated with a current investigation. All these things are in Sen. Patrick Leahy's and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's USA Freedom Act.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:32 AM PST.

Also republished by The First and The Fourth and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (38+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:32:18 AM PST

  •  the reality is that nothing will prevent a variety (7+ / 0-)

    of other government agencies from doing the data collection and what about the telecoms among other private entities that will eventually make Google much more powerful than any government

    The president also is said to be considering one of the review board's most aggressive recommendations, a proposal to strip the NSA of its ability to store telephone records from millions of Americans and instead have phone companies or a third party hold the records. The NSA would be able to access the records only by obtaining separate court approval for each search, though exceptions could be made in the case of a national security emergency.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:38:27 AM PST

  •  How did the HUGE stack of recommendations (16+ / 0-)

    from the industry insiders get reduced to a shell game where the collection of phone data still occurs but is in the hands of the industry insiders.

    Here's the metaphorical photo-op:  Obama ceremoniously sprits a can of bug spray on the Constitution, but the liquid in the spray makes the 4th Amendment disappear.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:40:55 AM PST

    •  Exactly, what about all the Internet records? (7+ / 0-)

      Including the database that shows what everybody is searching for on the Internet and the pages that they go to?

      Unlike any other agency, including your ISP, the NSA data collection spans multiples "autonomous systems".   Basically, these are huge networks that are stitched together globally to make the world wide web.  This means that they have the ability to unmask the location of users of programs like Tor because they can monitor the traffic as it goes across the global networks.

      "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

      by blackhand on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:34:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's the biggie (7+ / 0-)

      there are a whole bunch of other recommendations that I didn't get into here, namely adopting the idea of the public advocate in the FISC.

      But, yeah, this is the one that matters.

      "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

      by Joan McCarter on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:09:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  'omnibus authorizations (8+ / 0-)

    for bulk collection and analysis based on “reasonable articulable suspicion” of terrorist connections."

    If one has reasonable articulable suspicions, then omnibus authorizations for bulk collections would be entirely unnecessary.  If one cahas reasonable suspicions specific enough to be articulable, one would target one's collections against those with the terrorist connections that  have identified in one's articulated suspicions. Because, 'any given American could be a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer', is paranoid delusion, not reasonable suspicion.

  •  At least he could give truth to NSA = No (0+ / 0-)

    Such Agency.

    Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

    by whenwego on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:44:51 AM PST

  •  Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, MPociask

    Uh, I think so, Brain, but where will we find a duck and a hose at this hour?

  •  Let me help you O. (8+ / 0-)

    Shut down the the known and unknown illegally spying programs that collect data on Americans.

    Shut id down and destroy the information saved, no matter the media.

  •  In other words: (14+ / 0-)

    Nothing will change. Sorry O., you are full of it and we know it.

    The Republicans are crazy, but why we follow them down the rabbit hole is beyond me.

    by Jazzenterprises on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:58:06 AM PST

  •  How nice. (10+ / 0-)

    He's "expected to rein in spying on foreign leaders and is considering restricting National Security Agency access to Americans' phone records" according to the blockquoted portion of the AP article, but bulk collection is expected to continue.

    Merkel can finally get a good nights sleep, while the rest of us get to go fuck ourselves.

    PR problem solved!




    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

    by DeadHead on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:00:56 PM PST

    •  How crazily backwards (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J M F, stevemb

      We're truly through the looking glass.  Foreign leaders (people who it might actually make sense to spy on, and have no Constitutional protections) = restricted spying.  Ordinary American citizens (no reason at all to spy on, protected by the Constitution) = spying free for all.

      Bulk data collection is an unconstitutional infringement of the 4th Amendment.  The President has demonstrated again what was already reported - he doesn't care about the Constitution, he just cares about the bad PR.  What a joke.  I can't believe he even has a law degree, let alone taught Con Law.

  •  What Leahy and Sensenbrenner say (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, YucatanMan, KenBee, MPociask

    Obama is pussyfooting around too much on this.  A few good senators have already done the homework.  Listen to them, Mr. President.

  •  the (6+ / 0-)

    NSA/DOD/CIA (and State Depart) are all wonderfully connected - Chris Hedges might call that totalitarianism:

    sidebar:

    http://www.maebrussell.com/...

    The Washington Post
    December 22, 1963 - page A11

    Harry Truman Writes:
    Limit CIA Role
    To Intelligence

    By Harry S Truman
    Copyright, 1963, by Harry S Truman

    EXCERPT

    Documents in the Truman Library show that nine days after Kennedy was assassinated, Truman sketched out in handwritten notes what he wanted to say in the op-ed. He noted, among other things, that the CIA had worked as he intended only “when I had control.”

    Truman’s warning fell mostly on deaf ears, at least within Establishment circles. The Washington Post published the op-ed in its early edition on Dec. 22, 1963, but immediately excised it from later editions. Other media ignored it. The long hand of the CIA?

    https://www.commondreams.org/...
    EXCERPT

    When Kennedy himself was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, it must have occurred to Truman – as it did to many others – that the disgraced Dulles and his unrepentant associates might not be above conspiring to get rid of a president they felt was soft on Communism and get even for their Bay of Pigs fiasco.

    ‘Cloak and Dagger’

    While Truman saw CIA’s attempted mousetrapping of President Kennedy as a particular outrage, his more general complaint is seen in his broader lament that the CIA had become “so removed from its intended role … I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. … It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government.” Not only shaping policy through its control of intelligence, but also “cloak and dagger” operations, presumably including assassinations.

    Truman concluded the op-ed with an admonition that was as clear as the syntax was clumsy: “I would like to see the CIA restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President, and that whatever else it can properly perform in that special field – and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.” The importance and prescient nature of that admonition are even clearer today, a half-century later.

    The GOP focus on rolling back women's rights is an obsessive-compulsive behavior. They can't stop themselves. ~ Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America

    by anyname on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:21:20 PM PST

  •  "restrict gov't's access to private phone records" (9+ / 0-)

    That's already in place! And, it's worked out just marvelously for the NSA until now; they simply ignore the rules.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:24:15 PM PST

  •  And just recently, it was announced that the FBI (6+ / 0-)

    has changed their primary mission to one of law enforcement to National Security.  Hmmm, I wonder where this is going.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 12:34:57 PM PST

  •  Proposed half-assery from the Administration. (4+ / 0-)

    This is no surprise. The Administration isn't going to do enough on this. The only way to get them to react properly is to call them out, like the LGBT community did over DADT.

    I'm talking active heckling at private dinners and events.

    Protesting in front of the White House.

    And anything else that continues to call them out. Full spectrum harassment. It's the only thing these people react to. Put the Obama Administration on blast. That's the only way this bulk collection effort is curtailed.

    The Grand Bargain must be stopped at all costs to protect the 99%.

    by cybrestrike on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:35:29 PM PST

  •  The President should just shut up. (0+ / 0-)

    There's not a goddamn thing he can do about it. He, his wife, and all their relatives have all had penetrating cavity searches by the NSA, as well. They are completely compromised.

    For once, be straight with the USian people.

  •  Mark Udall was on NPR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask

    and though he was vague about what was actually said at the president's meeting with congressional leaders, he did keep saying he would keep fighting to stop bulk collection, which rather implied that he didn't think the president would stop it this round.

    Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

    by ramara on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:49:36 PM PST

  •  Hmmm.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask

    It seems that WE are the enemy...
    or eventually will be, if we finally get fed up enough with all the lies, abuses and manipulations by our corporate bought government turning us into totalitarian state for the elites convenience.

    http://inthesetimes.com/...

    http://www.thenation.com/...

    https://www.aclu.org/...

    It's always been about safeguarding the 1%s profit and control... follow the money.. right to the end of what used to be your democratic republic.

    Finché c'è vita, c'è speranza

    by gininitaly on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:14:48 PM PST

  •  Stop dragging your feet Mr. President! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb

    I don't want these half-assed reforms the NSA is out of control and it needs to be reigned in!

  •  Considering the recent memo from the VIPS, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, J M F

    Binney, Drake, Lomis and Wiebe, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, diddly squat is going to change for the moment. (God but those guys are stalwart and brave! My hat's off to them for actually trying to serve the public.)
    It makes the mind reel just to think of the financial blackhole this half assed mess causes for the average citizen. That's before one even touches the unconscionable constitutional violations.
    Fiercely sickening shit that Obama is fronting here with this silly paper hanging.

  •  Why can't they just hit the delete button? (0+ / 0-)

    "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medication to the dead." Thomas Paine

    by My two cents worth on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:03:13 AM PST

  •  Our DATA is a boon for Industry…. (0+ / 0-)

    …but a disaster for the rest of us and those in power behind our BATHROOM MIRRORS and laughing it up!

    Let's put a few stories together from 2013…. Aw whistle blower demonstrates that one of the US Gov agencies which receives the largest portion of our tax dollars is working hand in hand with an agency that has been accumulating as much data on US Citizens covering phone, mail, internet without due process or with a particular reason "in mind'.

    Earlier in 2013 a young man who started various "Open Source" internet sites was caught downloading published scientific papers funded by tax dollars, and many from University Departments for the specific purpose to disclose data on important medical, scientific studies, but are now owned by a private publisher limiting access to all but a few institutions. One institution was MIT where this Young Man was attending and who was allowed to download, though decided to download all, was imprisoned treated like a 'killer withWMD' who hanged himself. His last effort for Open Source embarrassed a former Congressman (Dem) and a current Congressman (Rep) who were trying to shut Open Source creative projects to the public.

    Wikileaks exposed how the US Gov treats other countries and Manning exposed US policy through one particular video the US targets the innocent.

    The position that our own gov. takes on all of this shows a certain view that we have all read about in other countries; a "them" vs "us" and we everyday citizen are the "them". Senator Saunders has been looking for an answer to whether Congress and the Senate are being watched, too, as when J. Edger Hoover spied on Congress to ruin lives to push agendas.

    Now, the government is teaming up with Corporations which can be REALLY bad news for ALL of us.

    We have a HUGE problem here!

    1)  The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center
    The National Security Agency's immensely secret project in the Utah desert will intercept, analyze, and store yottabytes of the world's communications—including yours.
    http://www.wired.com/...

    2) The Inside Story of Why Aaron Swartz Broke Into MIT and JSTOR 
www.newrepublic.comA two-day retreat helped radicalize the Internet prodigy.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/...

    3)http://www.allgov.com/...

    4)http://www.aljazeera.com/...

    5) http://pando.com/...

    6) http://www.theguardian.com/...

    7) http://www.slate.com/...

    8) http://pando.com/...

    9) http://www.theguardian.com/...

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