Obama to back modest surveillance reforms
Published 9:34 am Friday, January 17, 2014
WASHINGTON — Capping a monthslong review, President Barack Obama is expected to back modest changes to the government’s surveillance network at home and abroad while largely leaving the framework of the controversial programs in place, including the bulk collection of phone records from millions of Americans.
The approach reflects a president seeking the middle ground in the resurgent debate over Americans’ privacy and the security measures needed to keep the country safe.
Obama was to detail his decisions in a much-anticipated speech Friday morning at the Justice Department. The speech follows an internal review spurred by disclosures about the government’s sweeping surveillance programs by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden.
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But the president’s address may leave many questions about reforms to the surveillance programs unanswered. He was expected to recommend further study on several of the 46 recommendations he received from a presidential review group, including a proposal to strip the NSA of its ability to hold Americans’ phone records and ideas for expanding privacy protections to foreigners.
Many of the changes Obama was expected to announce appeared aimed at shoring up the public’s confidence in the spying operations. That included a move to add an independent privacy advocate to the secretive court that approves the phone record collections.