Reeling from Edward Snowden’s disclosures that the Obama-era NSA has been sweeping up Americans’ data despite Candidate Obama’s promise to wage a nicer war on terrorism, the president is set to announce some “reforms” of how the spy agency handles the data it is gathering. Once we get past the fluff, the reforms appear to be to 1) have the NSA house the data somewhere other than NSA’s own servers; 2) require a judicial finding before the government queries the database; and 3) let Eric Holder figure out the rest.
What is Eric Holder’s expertise on terrorism and national security? Eh, it doesn’t matter. I suppose it’s some comfort that Janet “man-caused disaster” Napolitano won’t be involved in this. But not much.
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.
While a presidential advisory panel had recommended that the bulk data be controlled by a third party such as the telephone companies, Obama will not offer a specific proposal for who should store the data in the future.
Holding the data, just offsite at a contractor, serves mainly to provide distance that does not actually make a difference. Put it in the cloud for all it matters.
Intelligence officials for some time had been circulating secret proposals for having the data stored by phone companies or a non-profit group, and some officials had signaled publicly that NSA might have to accept changes.
A non-profit group? Who, Code Pink? How about having CMS hold it. They’ve proven so effective with online security running the Obamacare website.
This is an administration that employs at least one high-level intelligence official who is known to have directly lied to Congress — DNI James Clapper. This administration stonewalled the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recent report on Benghazi. Holder himself has been held in contempt of Congress by the House for stonewalling its Fast and Furious investigation. Obama provided the final kill to that one by invoking executive privilege. This administration is telling tall tales right now about its Obamacare enrollment numbers. This administration deployed the IRS to go after the president’s critics, and when caught, the president himself fake-fired the IRS administrator and now considers the abuse a fake scandal. This administration is also using one of the flimsiest excuses imaginable to let the Benghazi terrorists walk free. Obama appears eager to return the country to a pre-9-11 footing. Yet the reforms he announces today don’t actually reform much. He wants to keep the NSA data, at the same time he’s making a plan to end the war on terrorism.
Eyebrows should be raised by this.
The notion that this administration is now going to come clean and enact real reforms of the NSA’s programs, which don’t even seem to work against actual terrorism, is laughable. It’s low comedy. If they want to keep the data they’re gathering up on all of us, they will keep the data, no matter what Obama announces today.