Appears in DelawareLiberal, January 18, 2014, by ProgressivePopulist
The President's speech on Friday, pre-empting the final report he
commissioned on NSA restraints, is a good first step. So, we applaud
a beginning in rolling back the Surveillance State aimed at the
The civil liberties community appears vigilant on
keeping the heat on the Administration to maintain a sharp eye on
overreach by NSA and other intelligence agencies. This can only be good
for the U.S. and our constitutional republic. Hopefully the public
discussion on our security and constitutional protections against a
tyrannical government and the over-emphasis on protecting the "homeland"
and our so called exceptionalism will be expanded and a continual
Of particular note is the March 28 deadline for reauthorization of the Patriot Act by congress.
my opinion, there is way too much emphasis on protecting us against
"terrorism" compared to protecting our constitutional rights which has
created our exceptionalism, if any really exists compared to other
democracies around the world.
There is now much media parsing of
language in the President's speech, seeking clarification on many
vaguely worded statements on possible surveillance reforms and this too
is good. I prefer to leave this task to the lawyer class reviewing the
initiatives and proposals. Here's a quick review of major elements in
his Friday statement.
l. He proposes an annual review of privacy
implications of surveillance undertaken by federal agencies, including
NSA, with a report each year delivered to congress.
will be requested to authorize a panel of outside civil liberties
advocates to argue in "significant" cases before the FISA court. This
is new and very hopeful.
3. The Attorney General is to institute
added restrictions on the government's ability to retain, search and use
communications between citizens and foreigners: section 702 of the FISA
regulations regarding surveillance of suspected terrorist actions.
The FBI will be required to make changes in its national security
letters regarding data searches on persons it is scrutinizing.
On phone records collection by NSA, the government will transition away
from scrutinizing communications three steps away from subjects under
scrutiny for potential threats against the U.S. to two steps away and
only after a judicial finding on a "true emergency".
6. Intel agencies, including NSA, will stop "spying" on U.S. allied world leaders.
seems unaddressed at this point is the absence of whistle blower
protections for employees of national security or intel agencies and
their contractors. Snowden would fall into this category.
pressure needs to be mounted on the Delaware congressional delegation
on advocating for our civil liberties protections while considering
the "protections" addressed in the Patriot Act reauthorization by March