Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 9, 2013
President Obama believes that there should be increased transparency and reforms in our intelligence programs in order to give the public confidence that these programs have strong oversight and clear protections against abuse. That is what he has pursued as President, and today he is announcing several initiatives that will move that effort forward.
Since the disclosures were first made, the President has held a series of meetings with Intelligence Community leaders, during which he has emphasized the importance of transparency and openness and directed IC leadership to press forward with declassification of relevant materials, to the maximum extent possible, without undermining national security. Already, the Administration has declassified unprecedented information about the activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). On July 31, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) made public three documents dealing with the Section 215 program.
The Administration has also engaged Congress on these issues on 35 occasions, including several committee hearings and all-Senate and all-House Members’ meetings. On August 1, the President met with a group of bipartisan members of Congress to discuss key programs under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The President and senior White House and Administration officials have also engaged in a national dialogue on privacy in the 21st century, soliciting feedback from relevant stakeholder groups in the private sector, academia, and civil society. To date, the Administration has taken various steps to advance this national privacy dialogue, including: meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and leading several conversations on privacy issues with a broad array of organizations representing industry, civil society, civil rights and transparency groups. Most recently, the President met with a group of leaders from the private sector, civil society and academia yesterday at the White House to discuss a range of privacy issues.
Today, the President directed his Administration to work with Congress to pursue appropriate reforms to our nation’s surveillance programs and the court that oversees them. Specifically, he laid out four steps his Administration will take:
(1) The Administration will work with Congress to pursue appropriate reforms to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. After having a dialogue with members of Congress and civil libertarians, the President believes that there are steps that can be taken to give the American people confidence that there are additional safeguards against abuse. For example, steps could be taken to put in place greater oversight, transparency, and constraints on the use of this authority.
(2) The Administration will work with Congress to improve the public’s confidence in the oversight conducted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Specifically, steps can be taken to make sure civil liberties concerns have a greater voice in appropriate cases by ensuring that the government’s position is challenged by an adversary.
(3) The President directed the Intelligence Community to make public as much information about these programs as possible. Already, the Administration has declassified unprecedented information about the activities of the NSA. On July 31, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) made public three documents dealing with the section 215 program. The NSA is taking steps to put in place a full time Civil Liberties and Privacy Officer, and has released information that details its mission, authorities and oversight. The Intelligence Community is creating a website that will serve as a hub for further transparency. This will give Americans – and the world – the ability to learn more about what our intelligence community does; how it does it; and why.
(4) The President called for a high-level group of outside experts to review our intelligence and communications technologies. The President is tasking this group to step back and review our capabilities – particularly our surveillance technologies. They will consider how we can maintain the public’s trust, and how this surveillance impacts our foreign policy – particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public. They will provide an interim report in 60 days, and a final report by the end of this year, so that we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programs impact our security, our privacy, and our foreign policy.
NSA Twists Words To Fit Agenda, Cites ZERO Terrorists Intercepted
TheYoungTurks on Aug 10, 2013
“The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.
The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.”*
Cenk Uygur breaks it down.
Updated: Aug. 12, 2013
President Obama press news conference at White House – NSA surveillance program 8/9/2013
Claudia M on Aug 9, 2013
Obama announces new #NSA surveillance rules America is not interested in spying on ordinary people. announces reforms to Patriot Act at White House news conference, will provide more transparency President Obama announces Justice Dept to declassify legal decisions relating to Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act Obama says US to pause and reassess relations with Russia. President Obama: “No – I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot.”
Senate Insider Speaks Out: Ex-Wyden Staffer on Secret Laws, Domestic Spying and Obama’s NSA Reforms
democracynow on Aug 12, 2013
www.democracynow.org – As President Obama proposed a series of changes to reform the government’s surveillance policies and programs, we speak to Jennifer Hoelzer, the former deputy chief of staff for Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, a longtime critic of the Obama administration for using a secret interpretation of the USA PATRIOT Act to allow the NSA to conduct domestic surveillance. “Unfortunately Edward Snowden was the only means by which we have been able to have this debate,” Hoelzer says. “We, working for Senator Wyden, did everything to try to encourage the administration to bring these facts to light. We’re not talking about sources and methods, we’re not talking about sensitive materials, we’re talking about what they believed the law allows them to do.” Meanwhile, The Guardian newspaper has revealed the National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases to search for email and phone calls of U.S. citizens without a warrant. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, NSA operatives can hunt for individual Americans’ communications using their name or other identifying information.
www.nowaynsa.com/ (Take Action)
Presidential Memorandum — Reviewing Our Global Signals Intelligence Collection and Communications Technologies
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 12, 2013
SUBJECT: Reviewing Our Global Signals Intelligence Collection and Communications Technologies
The United States, like all nations, gathers intelligence in order to protect its national interests and to defend itself, its citizens, and its partners and allies from threats to our security. The United States cooperates closely with many countries on intelligence matters and these intelligence relationships have helped to ensure our common security.
Recent years have brought unprecedented and rapid advancements in communications technologies, particularly with respect to global telecommunications. These technological advances have brought with them both great opportunities and significant risks for our Intelligence Community: opportunity in the form of enhanced technical capabilities that can more precisely and readily identify threats to our security, and risks in the form of insider and cyber threats.
I believe it is important to take stock of how these technological advances alter the environment in which we conduct our intelligence mission. To this end, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I am directing you to establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (Review Group).
The Review Group will assess whether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust. Within 60 days of its establishment, the Review Group will brief their interim findings to me through the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Review Group will provide a final report and recommendations to me through the DNI no later than December 15, 2013.
You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.