Friday, January 30, 2015

Obama Gets An Incomplete On NSA Reform

President Barack Obama promised to reform the National Security Agency a year ago this month. Interviews and a report released Thursday show just how slow the going has been.

The new report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, an independent agency within the executive branch, gave the administration an incomplete at best. Congress, meanwhile, gets a failing grade.

One of the privacy board's signature recommendations last January was to end the controversial NSA program that collects data on who Americans call and when. The privacy board said the program has "limited value" in fighting terrorism -- but Congress failed to pass a reform measure.

The board gave the administration credit for supporting a proposal to leave the call data in phone companies' hands. But it faulted the Obama administration for not taking the more proactive step of "unilaterally ending the telephone records program, which it could do at any time."

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has also called on the administration to take that step. Instead, the Justice Department has kept asking a court to renew approval of its bulk phone data collection program. Supporters say that while the program may not have definitely foiled any terror plots, it does have some value.


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