Last week, The Guardian reported that the NSA was eavesdropping on 35 world leaders, including US allies. As you can imagine, this didn't sit well with those being spied on, while reports emerged that the spying programs were stopped after the president learned of their existence. Now the Obama administration says it may apply additional measures to reign in the NSA.
RT reports that White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that the Obama administration will be taking an even harder look at NSA surveillance programs after it was revealed that the agency was spying on world leaders:
“There are a number of efforts underway that are designed to increase transparency, to work with Congress to look at reform to the Patriot Act [and] to look at ways we can increase oversight and increase constraint on the authorities provided by these programs.”
Despite saying that the White House would "work with Congress to look at reform to the Patriot Act," Carney continued to emphasize that all the powers given to the NSA under the FISA court's interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act are entirely legal. If anything, the Obama administration will likely look to the reform bills being pushed by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers. Both call for increased transparency, but not much else. In fact, both join the administration in saying that the bulk collection of Americans' phone records is legal.
To fight against such ineffective reform, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy and original Patriot Act author Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner will introduce the USA Freedom Act in both the Senate and House. The bill not only ends the bulk collection of Americans' phone records under Section 215, but it also reforms the FISA court to allow a public advocate to argue against government interests. The bill will allow private companies to publish the number of data requests they receive as well.
Of course, the White House could very well be serious about implementing serious reform. Carney said that the administration is continuing its review of these programs, and that it will "look at how we can better balance our security needs and the security needs of our allies against the real privacy concerns that we all share."
We can only dream, right?[Image: White House/flickr]