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Senators Ron Wyden, Dianne Feinstein, and Pat Roberts in an Intelligence Committee meeting.
Senate Intelligence Committee members Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, and Pat Roberts.

President Obama will announce Friday the National Security Agency reforms he intends to pursue. His decision will be at least partially informed by the recommendations of a White House-appointed review group, which issued its recommendations a few weeks ago. That group had a key finding, echoed by a newly released review by the New America Foundation, that the bulk collection of Americans' data "'was not essential to preventing attacks' and that much of the evidence it did turn up 'could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders.'"

Nonetheless, the White House advisory group still recommended bulk collection of phone data as well as Internet data, but with the phone data held by the companies rather than the government. That change, as well as several others he's reportedly considering, will require Congress.

As commander in chief, Obama could abandon certain surveillance practices altogether. For instance, he could simply shut down the so-called 215 program to collect telephone data in the U.S. so it can be used to trace potential contacts of terrorism suspects.

But the president has said he’s considering replacing that program with a private-sector-based arrangement that provides the government with similar information on a case-by-case basis. That would require Congress to step in, officials said. [...]

The review group also recommended assigning a public advocate to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so judges could hear from an attorney advocating for privacy rights and other constitutional protections for Americans whose data is swept up in surveillance programs. And the panel urged changing the way judges on the court are appointed, so the chief justice no longer has the sole power to make such picks. Those changes, too, would need legislation.

Meanwhile, a second congressionally authorized oversight panel—the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board—will be issuing its review of the NSA programs in the coming weeks. That review won't be considered in Obama's proposals, since it's not likely to be released by Friday, but will undoubtedly factor into any potential congressional action.

That's where things get interesting. The current intelligence committee chairs, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) are staunch defenders of the status quo, but are butting up against Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), original author of the Patriot Act. The latter two have sponsored legislation that ends bulk collection. The White House hasn't endorsed any legislation yet, though clearly is more closely aligned with Feinstein and Rogers in protecting the status quo. All of this is pointing to a potential stalemate in Congress at least until 2015, when the Patriot Act's Section 215, the program the NSA says authorizes phone data collection, expires.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 09:14 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 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 Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 09:14:20 AM PST

  •  I'm shocked. SHOCKED. Said no one, ever (9+ / 0-)
    The White House hasn't endorsed any legislation yet, though clearly is more closely aligned with Feinstein and Rogers in protecting the status quo.

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 09:21:55 AM PST

  •  Well, perhaps the whole kerfuffle is over (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, eyo, hawkseye, AoT, 4kedtongue

    the fact that the private communciations firms aren't getting paid enough for the data they collect and hand over to the government. Perhaps the idea is to pay them, but only for the data they actually access.
    Collectors collect. I wish they didn't, but they do. At least electronic data isn't unsightly. :)

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 09:33:46 AM PST

  •  Christie and the NSA (9+ / 0-)

    Chris Hedges has a great article that asks the reader to imagine what President Christie could do with the NSA.  Link

  •  Can anyone tell me where this is headed? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, eyo, MPociask
    Nonetheless, the White House advisory group still recommended bulk collection of phone data as well as Internet data, but with the phone data held by the companies rather than the government
    Does this mean that the NSA scoops up all the data and then turns all this data back to the different companies? Will all this data still be stored in those huge facilities that my tax $$ are funding? And how does this arrangement tie in with that quaint 4th amendment? These people still want to vacuum up all of our data, only to be used when it's convenient for them? Besides needing to quash this in Congress, it seems that a whole lot of "secret" laws and "secret" courts as well as the known laws (such as the USA PATRIOT Act) need to get terminated as well. And that will get done, like never!
    •  the data is coming from the companies (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dicentra, AoT, MPociask

      The NSA doesn't snoop to get domestic data. They get it directly from the companies you pay to carry it (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) If you send an email, text, surf for porn, or make a phone call, your carrier has full access to everything you do.

      Those carriers can hold onto your data for a variety of reasons (technical, billing, and legal) but they likely dispose of it after a few minutes or a couple years depending on their policies.

      I would guess the idea behind that regulation would be to force the carriers to hold onto everything. The carriers are probably not going to be too fond of that idea as at that scale storage costs a lot of money. I also don't see what the point of such a regulation would be.

    •  I'm pretty sure it would mean that the phone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify

      companies would hold the data they already have for a specified amount of time and then hand it over when the feds ask for it.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:25:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Caching Data (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DeadHead, AoT

      As always before a policy proposal is legislated, finally signed, and then actually implemented, it's not at all clear what "private companies hold the data" actually means.

      But one version is that the companies that generate the data, eg. Google and Verizon, would store all the data for some required duration without sharing it with anyone. If the government properly requested the data (eg. court order upon probable cause) it would be handed over.

      A variation is the companies scrambling the data as it's generated, handing the scrambled data to NSA as it's generated (in batches to be manageable). Later eg. court order would deliver the unscrambling key from company to NSA. It's a much cheaper option, and less prone to the companies themselves snooping in the stored data - or knowing exactly which data is being reviewed, and when, by NSA. It's cheaper and more secure. It also facilitates the total deletion of the data after some time has passed.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:50:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  OK, what most concerns me is that the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein

    Congressional over-seers - as depicted in the picture accompanying this diary - have a way less cool abode than those they're apparently over-seeing

    How could that possible be?

    (unless, of course, I'm mistaking the apparently fake marble walls shown in this diary for real marble . .. .)

  •  abuses of power SOP, one big fishing expedition (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, hawkseye, maryabein

    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 Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 10:06:49 AM PST

  •  To be Big Brother, or not to be Big Brother (6+ / 0-)

    that is the question.

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

    by Jazzenterprises on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:04:51 AM PST

  •  So instead of just stopping on their own (4+ / 0-)

    the administration will be  rigging it so Congress has to stop them?  Pretty lame kabuki.

    •  you mean that Obama can do something without (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TJ, AoT, dicentra, MPociask, 420 forever

      the mean Republicans stopping him?

      Or looking at another way, that might be your point

      Throw the whole thing into the legislative branch and continue the kabuki of the parties which is American politics

      or, maybe I am bringing up another kabuki and you were pointing out that programs under the Administration were subject to oversight and control by them

      summary of what is going on with the National Security "debate"

      Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald 5h

      1) US officials scream "terrorism!" to justify their actions; 2) US media uncritically repeats it; 3) claim is disproven; 4) process repeats

      •  Screaming terrorism at work (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maryabein, AoT, Don midwest

        Look at that excerpt in the article.  Politico wrote:
        "For instance, he could simply shut down the so-called 215 program to collect telephone data in the U.S. so it can be used to trace potential contacts of terrorism suspects."

        That's a rather charitable interpretation, isn't it?  You could go so far as to say it's straight up propoganda.  The 215 program, after all, doesn't get just "terrorism suspects," it collects the phone records of every single American.  Could Politico write "For instance, he could simply shut down the so-called 215 program to collect telephone data in the U.S. so that the government can monitor and squash dissent." ?

    •  maybe they're trying to ensure that it stops (0+ / 0-)

      no matter who is in the White House? Because what the Obama administration does via rule change, the Christie administration could quickly and quietly reverse.

  •  How the NSA threatens national security (6+ / 0-)
    Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald 1h

    RT @Bruce_Schneier: How the NSA Threatens National Security http://is.gd/...

    First and foremost, the surveillance state is robust. It is robust politically, legally, and technically. .....
    Second, the NSA continues to lie about its capabilities. It hides behind tortured interpretations of words like "collect," "incidentally," "target," and "directed."....
    Third, US government surveillance is not just about the NSA. The Snowden documents have given us extraordinary details about the NSA's activities, but we now know that the CIA, NRO, FBI, DEA, and local police all engage in ubiquitous surveillance using the same sorts of eavesdropping tools, and that they regularly share information with each other.
    here is the link again

    https://www.schneier.com/...

  •  I can't recall an instance where a bureaucrat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, DocGonzo

    or a general ever agreed that anything or anyone  under their supervision wasn't essential and that more blivits were needed. This isn't going to be different. Money and power, all we need to know.

    “Society is like a stew. If you don’t keep it stirred up, you get a lot of scum on top,” Edward Abbey

    by Wood Gas on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:21:45 AM PST

  •  Enough qualifiers to keep the metadata program. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tony Situ
    the bulk collection of Americans' data "'was not essential to preventing attacks' and that much of the evidence it did turn up 'could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders.'"
    "Not Essential"

    "To prevent"

    "Much of the evidence."

    Anyone wondering why the review suggesting keeping the metadata program can see it's because it's got some uses to prevent, implicitly some uses after the fact to catch, and some uses to obtain evidence after the fact.

    The only issue is cost, since it ain't privacy.

    Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

    by Inland on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:22:04 AM PST

  •  Fool (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, DocGonzo, Don midwest

    Dianne Feinstein = tool of the security aparatus

  •  Oh, good. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Inland, TJ, Mr Robert, MPociask, maryabein
    Nonetheless, the White House advisory group still recommended bulk collection of phone data as well as Internet data, but with the phone data held by the companies rather than the government.
    I feel better already.

    So instead of the government hoarding data by itself, it's going to rely on private companies to hoard the data so the government can access it on-demand. Gosh, such reform!

    I'm from the Fucking Retard wing of the the Democratic Party.

    by Boogalord on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:24:59 AM PST

    •  It makes sense given the complaints: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tony Situ

      after all, this is info that's already in private hands, and the complaint is that the government collects what's already known to the private companies.

      So solving "the problem" by having a private company hold onto it makes sense, if your goal is making sure that the USG doesn't know what private companies know.

      Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

      by Inland on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:30:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It depends (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Boogalord

        If this means that the companies that first get the data keep it for a bit then it's an improvement. If it means that they'll get some company to collect all of it and hold on to it then it's worse in my opinion. The complaint is that the government gets all the data that the various companies have and correlates it and gives access to private security firms.

        If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

        by AoT on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:51:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, Privitization is the answer... /eyeroll (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TJ, Mr Robert, Krotor, maryabein

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:25:45 AM PST

  •  What? I'm sorry, but hand it over to Private hands (6+ / 0-)

    That's ... where are the words?... 'fucking insane' fits. Fucking batshit insane.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:29:51 AM PST

    •  It would be kept in private hands (0+ / 0-)

      Meaning the companies that the NSA gets it from now instead of having the NSA collect it they'd just tell AT&T to hold on to their data for a while, which they already do, and then show up with a warrant when they want some of it. Not perfect but certainly better than what we've got now.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:53:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sounds mostly like optics (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maryabein, DeadHead, Jim P

        to me. The goal is to reassure the American public that something's being done to curb the potential for abuse. Or something. Not to actually curb it, but rather to reassure folks... ya know. So....  yeah.... I ain't buyin' it. Nuhn unh...

        If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. ~ Emma Goldman

        by Lady Libertine on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:17:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I understand that, but personally I don't have (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT

        any greater fear that some unscrupulous government employee would misuse the data than an unscrupulous AT&T employee would.  Especially when there have been no cited incidents of NSA agents abusing the data (e.g. using it to blackmail people, or other paranoid fantasies that people have fear-mongered about), while there HAVE been incidents of employees of private corporations abusing such data in the past.

        •  AT&T employees already have access to this info (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DeadHead

          There's no way to restrict that really. AT&T will always have this sort of info and unless we require that they purge all their records monthly then they always will. Better the information is broken up among various companies than stored in one location where it's easier to access al of it.

          As for the NSA not abusing the data. The fact that there isn't a single documented case of the NSA misusing this info speaks volumes to me as to how little we actually know about what the NSA is doing. I guarantee there are people misusing this info at the NSA, it's inevitable. And yet we don't have a single case we know of. That says to me that we are ignorant, not that the NSA is innocent.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:31:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bingo! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT
            we require that they purge all their records monthly
            Then we've got an actual fix.


            Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

            by Jim P on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:19:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Ah. And the guarantee that NSA doesn't snoop (0+ / 0-)

        AT&T is... Clapper's word or something?


        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:17:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not great, but it's better (0+ / 0-)

          My preference would be to get rid of the NSA all together.

          In theory the NSA could be reduced to just code breaking. The data would hang out at the companies and  then when the CIA or DEA or whoever needed it they would get a warrant and then if it needed to be decrypted then they could go to the NSA and have them decrypt it.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:25:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Depends on How Handed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT

      I think that if the telecom corps scrambled their data as they generate it, handing it over scrambled to NSA for deletion after some time, during which eg. a court order could subpoena the telecom corp for the unscrambling key, that could be a pretty safe way of handling the data. For one it would sharply limit the kind of data as telecoms would hand over only what's stated in the law, and a subset unscrambled on a court's order. Plus the NSA would safeguard the scrambled data, rather than hackable telecoms where it would be deleted.

      There is some legit role for NSA to sometimes get some of this data. It needs to be properly balanced so all the necessary parties to its review agree in a way that's practically enforceable. This approach does that. And at minimal jackable expense to the telecoms for government reimbursement.

      BTW, the Snowden revelations about NSA have convinced the highly skeptical and suspicious data security industry that scrambling data is a very effective way to thwart even NSA's deep resources.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:57:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So the Obama solution (10+ / 0-)

    is to force private companies to spy on us at the behest of the federal government.
        That is soooo much better.

    the White House advisory group still recommended bulk collection of phone data as well as Internet data, but with the phone data held by the companies rather than the government

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:30:20 AM PST

  •  Sensenbrenner! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    420 forever, maryabein, Don midwest
    butting up against Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), original author of the Patriot Act. The latter two have sponsored legislation that ends bulk collection.

    Sensenbrenner is legislating against bulk collection! What kind of lunatic Democrats could possibly be bigger on a police state than Sensenbrenner?

    Totally corrupt ones, that's what kind.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:41:28 AM PST

  •  What's better about provate companies storing the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krotor, Simplify, ord avg guy

    collected data rather than government?  That proposal seems to be little more than a sop to the paranoids on the far right/left that hate/fear the government
     much more than they do corporations.  

    I see no evidence that corporations are more trustworthy than the government, but then again this entire exercise is about placating those that go fear government as the bogeyman even as they hand over massive amounts of personal data to private corporations without a care in the world.

    •  I'm not sure why... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, FogCityJohn, 4kedtongue

      You persist with the idea that there's some kind of inherent irony in people "handing over massive amounts of personal data to private corporations" yet "fearing" it when they're giving it unwillingly to their government.

      Being okay with a corporation getting data with our consent, which doesn't have the ability to charge, convict, and sentence a person for crimes, and being not okay with a government that most certainly DOES have those capabilities, getting our personal data without consent, are not mutually exclusive positions.

      By the way, Tony, the objection to these data collection practices isn't limited to "paranoids on the far right/left."

      That's just you injecting what's become a common occurrence in your comments — an attempt to turn this into some kind of "fringe" concern, when it clearly isn't.




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

      by DeadHead on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:39:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your information is as safe as (4+ / 0-)

      your credit card purchases at Target!

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:53:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You realize that the corporations also have the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DeadHead, 4kedtongue

      information either way. The NSA is getting the info from AT&T etc. Having it all warehoused at the NSA means that it will be in both places.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 01:00:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  NSA probably already knows what they are? (0+ / 0-)

    NSA probably told him what they were going to be....that's why they know.

    Color me skeptical of any efforts by this President to curb domestic spying or any other security program started under Bush.

    Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.

    by fauxrs on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:37:34 PM PST

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