Obama Overhauls NSA's Surveillance Programs

Friday, January 17, 2014


On Friday in an address to the nation and the world, President Barack Obama announced a major overhaul of the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance practices. The president's announcement comes in response to a global debate that was sett off by the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"It is hard to overstate the transformation America’s intelligence community had to go through after 9/11," the president said during his remarks at the Justice Department. "And yet, in our rush to respond to very real and novel threats, the risks of government overreach—the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security—became more pronounced."

The president said that in order for the nation's intelligence community to be effective over the long haul, the trust of the American people must be maintained. In order to maintain that trust, the president said he would end the vast collection of phone data as it exists today.

"I believe critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives, and open the door to more intrusive, bulk collection programs," said the president. "Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect. For history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends upon the law to constrain those in power."

The Takeaway's Washington Correspondent, Todd Zwillich breaks it down with further NSA analysis from Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright.

Click here to read the White House's policy directive. Listen to the president's full speech below.



Lawrence Wright and Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Jen Poyant and Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [3]

I find the solution of moving the data to a third party to be somewhat dubious. Without a much better conceptual framework for protectiong intrusions into the data, and a better approach to separate the privacy concerns from the security needs and values, what the panels of experts have created and recommended and now accepted by the President are solutions that they say address the issues; but I see that this is more knee-jerk reactions and plans without innovative inputs. There are ways to protect the privacy of individuals, improve the security effectiveness that can be applied to the meta-data, and prevent vulnerabilities and abuses all at the same time. But the experts didn't do that, so are they the 'best and brightest' or just the people consulted and contracted to see where there are business opportunities, political leverage, and govermental over-simplification. Why do better when you can do worse.

Jan. 17 2014 03:46 PM
charlesNYC from New York

"[only if]2 steps from a suspect, not three". Kevin Bacon's privacy still not secure.

Jan. 17 2014 03:36 PM
Beth from Nebraska

I am not surprised by the NSA actions. I have always assumed the government is at least collecting data on everyone, since 9/11. I actually am surpised by how shocked people are by the NSA actions. The American people have allowed this to happen and in some ways have wanted this to happen. We value our security over our privavcy; sometimes we say we don't, but when it comes down to it, we would rather stay alive and be spied on then die in our privacy.
The truth is --- we can't stop terrorists no matter what we do. A truelly determined person will kill other people no matter what. We cannot stop terrorism without giving up all privacy.

Jan. 17 2014 12:25 PM

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