President Obama Will Fix Everything

Reuters: Obama to announce overhaul to controversial NSA program.
President Barack Obama will announce on Friday a major overhaul of a controversial National Security Agency program that collects vast amounts of basic telephone call data on foreigners and Americans, a senior Obama administration official said.

In an 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) speech at the Justice Department, Obama will say he is ordering a transition that will significantly change the handling of what is known as the telephone "metadata" program from the way the NSA currently handles it.

Obama's move is aimed at restoring Americans' confidence in U.S. intelligence practices and caps months of reviews by the White House in the wake of damaging disclosures about U.S. surveillance tactics from former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

In a nod to privacy advocates, Obama will say he has decided that the government should not hold the bulk telephone metadata, a decision that could frustrate some intelligence officials.

In addition, he will order that effectively immediately, "we will take steps to modify the program so that a judicial finding is required before we query the database," said the senior official, who revealed details of the speech on condition of anonymity.

...Obama is balancing public anger at the disclosure of intrusion into Americans' privacy with his commitment to retain policies he considers critical to protecting the United States.
"Aimed at restoring Americans' confidence in US intelligence practices." As opposed to: Aimed at halting illegal spying on people in the US and abroad.

Oh, I'm so cynical. I know. But the reason I don't foresee meaningful change is not just because of a few lines in a single news story that make the Obama administration sound more interested in improving PR than improving their intelligence policies. It's because once these sorts of practices start, they never get rolled back. Not really. Despite lots of lipservice about accountability and oversight and warrants and balance and blah blah fart, once a piece of our privacy is gone at this level in service to "national security," it tends to stay gone.

That is one thing on which both parties are always able to agree.


UPDATE: Here is the full transcript of the President's address.

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