Here's How Obama Is Planning To Reform Government Surveillance And Respond To Edward Snowden's Leaks

During a news conference on Friday, President Barack Obama announced a four-step plan to reform National Security Agency surveillance programs in the wake of continued revelations from former contractor Edward Snowden.

His four points:

  • Obama said he will work with Congress to enact reforms to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, the section that allows the NSA to collect data on certain personal phone communications.
  • The Department of Justice on Friday released the legal rationale for the government’s collection activities under Section 215.
  • Obama announced the creation of an independent, blue-ribbon commission to review the NSA’s surveillance methods.
  • Finally, he proposed a reform to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which would involve appointing a special privacy advocate to the court. This would also require Congressional action. It closely mirrors a proposal introduced in the Senate last week by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

Obama said the reforms were not in direct response to Snowden’s leaks, but it was clear he wanted the White House to get ahead of the growing debate over NSA surveillance.

“Unfortunately, rather than an orderly and lawful process to debate these issues and come up with appropriate reforms, repeated leaks of classified information have initiated the debate in a very passionate but not always fully informed way,” Obama said.

He also bristled at the suggestion that the increased debate over surveillance would make Snowden a “whistleblower” or a “patriot.”

“I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot,” Obama said.

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