"All these safeguards, checks, audits, oversight" of the NSA's surveillance programs "worked," President Obama told CNN Friday morning. He'd like you to agree — but isn't doing what he could to make that happen.
When the president at a press conference earlier this month announced his proposal for reforms and review of NSA surveillance, it suggested an administration willing to conduct some reflection. This week, though, has given some reason to think that the reflection might be more like the emperor asking people what they think of his new duds. The NSA's informational website is a Tumblr page, ICOnTheRecord. The Director of National Intelligence's release of key rulings from the court that governs the surveillance programs neglected to mention that it was largely spurred by a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Then there's that review panel, which Obama described like this at the press conference.
[W]e're forming a high level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies. We need new thinking for a new era. …
So I'm tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities, particularly our surveillance technologies, and they'll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public.
"Outside." "New thinking." "Independent group." Yes, the proposal came under fire when the president at first directed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to house it within his department. But the administration clarified: the "panel members are being selected by the White House."