President Obama recently announced surveillance reforms and while he made it clear that he doesn’t believe Edward Snowden was a patriot, we suspect some supporters may take this as somewhat of a win. Or at the very least, a partial win. During the conference Obama spoke about how people have the right to ask about surveillance, noting that it is not enough for him as president to have confidence in these programs.
He went on to mention that “the American people need to have confidence in them, as well.” He did say that he is confident the current programs were not being abused, but nonetheless announced plans to pursue a few items. These include changing section 215 of the Patriot Act and reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
For those unfamiliar, section 215 includes a collection of data such as phone records. Other items discussed included Obama tasking the NSA with appointing a privacy and civil liberties officer and also having the White House create a high-level outside advisory group to review the government’s surveillance activities. Obama also went into details about how this outside advisory group would be responsible for publishing a report in 60 days and then another before the end of the year.
With those items being addressed, Obama said they “can and must be more transparent.” Looking back to some of the statements from Obama regarding the questions about surveillance, he did make it clear that this is especially important “as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives.”
Looking back towards Snowden, Obama acknowledged there was “no doubt that Mr. Snowden’s leaks triggered a much more rapid, and passionate, response than if I [he] had simply appointed this review board.” But before any Snowden supporters leave in happiness, Obama did go on to talk about how “there were other avenues available for someone whose conscience was stirred and thought they needed to question government action.”