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tv   Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield  CNN  January 17, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PST

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data will still be collected. when needed, when they determine there is a national security interest, they are still going to be able to do that. that's just something that needs to be made clear. it is a change. it is a step forward but will that satisfy some of the most severe critics? i don't think so. >> we have seen a significant shift in the president over these past many years. one stance he was very concerned about privacy violations when he was a united states senator from illinois. then, when the snowden leaks emerged, very protective, very defensive, saying everything was done legally. this is necessary to protect america and avoid another 9/11. now, over the past six months, shifting, saying there has to be some greater privacy protections. presidents evolve, as barack obama himself might say. if you watch the evolution of
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candidate obama, as a senate candidate, this is somebody who was fiercely ideal lisic and protective of your privacy. he is looking for a way to thread the needle. so he can say, look, i'm not snooping on your phone calls. i guarantee you, he is going to talk about that today. i am not snooping on your phone calls but i need to keep this country safe. it occurs when you move into that oval office and every morning when you wake up and you are behind that desk, and that director of the central intelligence agency comes to you with a threat matrix and you see what people are trying to do to this country, it tends to change you. i think we have seen that shift in the president. he also remains the constitutional scholar who doesn't want to intrude on your privacy. he is trying to find this balance between national
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security and privacy. i think he is having a rough time. i think his administration is having a rough time in trying to figure out how to do this itself. >> i think it is fair. i'll be surprised if he satisfies everybody. the critics on the left will be upset. the critics on the right will. >> he is trying to mark the fine line. cnn military analyst from your per spe perspective on what we know. help fill in the blanks with some of the details. this is an acceptable compromise shall we say even though it is not going to satisfy the critics on the right or the left. clearly, the president has laid down markers. it's easy to punt this thing down the road. the president looks very presidential, if you will allow me that. he can come up, very
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magnanimous. we need to make some changes and move this over to the other side. the congress is going to have to get on board. so the president can have it both ways. we can maintain data collection, which as we've discussed will always be in place. every key stroke is captured so that exists. so it's our ability, our intelligence community ability to go after that. how that will occur, in the interim, there will be no changes. i don't know that there are no changes. beyond that, wolf, i have very little belief that anything is substantively going to change in order for our abilities to go after data as necessary. without getting into too much of the arc ana of how this works, once you get into the it the works, you can have two. i talked to gloria. who does she talk to? that's good. i can't go after those guys that she talked to. with are that data exists and where it will ultimately exist
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is the question right now. >> nobody wants to hold it, right? >> as you've indicated, it is the hot potato. the providers don't want to hold it. they want to make room for more. >> he has to make this case not only to the american people but international, foreign leaders and public. >> how far will he go in his speech today in insuring angela merkel and other friendly leaders that the u.s. is not going to listen in on their private phone conversations? >> i have been told they have decided for some time they are going to set severe limits on spying on foreign leaders. the president has determined it is not worth it and that the damage done is too great to justify any fringe benefits from doing that monitoring. the moment that made a difference was the angela merkel moment. they have a particularly close personal relationship. germany is an extremely close ally in terms of national
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security and economic issues. when that blew up, the obama white house says we really have to do something. >> let's go to the white house. we are waiting for the president. he will announce the reforms he has accepted as far as nsa surveillance and where we are moving forward, where the united states will be on this very, very sensitive issue. do we expect the president specifically to acknowledge in this address that the united states over the years has eavesdropped, has listened in on phone conversations of world leaders, specially allied world leaders. . >> i think the white house has just about acknowledged that without saying it explicitly. when the president says we are going to curtail that surveillance activity, that is in and of itself an acknowledge they have been spying on world leaders. for all intents and purposes, we could report they have been
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doing that. this has been an embarrassment, no the only in europe but across latin america, brazil, leaders in mexico and across the globe have been very upset with this white house because of that surveillance program on heads of state as they call them here. one thing we should also mention that we haven't talked about so far is that the president is also expected to announce a privacy aspect to the surveillance court, something that also did not exist before today. from what i understand from talking to administration officials, a lot of these changes are going to happen effective immediately. for example, the requirement the nsa has to go to the federal surveillance court in order to access the metadata archives and collection systems. that goes into effect immediately according to administration officials. as for this privacy, that is something that did not exist before. again, just like the storage of the data being outside of government hands, the details have not been worked out.
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who are these privacy advocates going to be? how is it they are going to operate? is it sort of like having a defense attorney for people's privacy concerns. keep in mind, some people have been saying, this is sort of glossing over and punting. keep in mind, the federal surveillance court judges sent a letter to diane fine stain saying, hey, don't put a privacy advocate on the core. don't do some of the changes that you are talking about. what the president is going to outline does go beyond what the surveillance court wants in many cases. >> hold on. we are standing by to hear directly from the president. i'm curious. will the president mention the name edward snowden when he speaks to the world. it is clooer ear to all of us, had not leaked this information, the president would probably not be releasing these reforms. if he mentions that name, edward snowden.
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for when you get married, move into a new house, or add a car to your policy. personalized coverage and savings. all the things humans need to make our world a little less imperfect. call... and ask about all the ways you could save. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? welcome back to our special coverage. the president of the united states about to announce major changes in surveillance and intelligence reform. the nsa program under a lot of
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criticism from the far left, far right, folks in the middle as well. the president is coming forward with a series of changes. how far he goes, we'll find out pretty soon. bob bear is a cnn, national security intelligence analyst. what do you think about all these changes? is he going far enough, going too far? what's your assessment? >> wolf, i think he is doing absolutely right. we need warrants based on probable cause to get into metamet metadata. it is the way 9/11 was cracked so quickly. the fbi got into the metadata, after attack or a crime has occurred, you have to have the stuff available. you can't get rid of it. number two, we may say we are not going to spy on the germans on merkel and the rest of it, that's fine. it sounds good. at the end of the day, we have to listen to german telephones, 9/11 was hatched in germany.
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i think the president is making the right decisions. i don't necessarily trust the nsa and the fbi. put them under a fisa court. >> we see the fbi director and the attorney general. they are all there getting ready to hear the president. when they walk in, you know the president will be following shortly. this whole notion, bob, we expect the president to be speak speaking momentarily, this whole notion of spying on foreign leaders, spying, if you will, on the american public, the surveillance. when we hear the phrase, metadata, what does that mean in practical terms when you are talking about preventing another 9/11? it is a complicated system that they have. >> it is based on link analysis. i worked for a special tribunal investigating the hariri murder. >> in lebanon? >> yes. we got in the telephone data and
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pieced together and only thanks to these telephone calls, the records of them, who killed hariri. it was a group inside hezbollah. without that, we would have never made the case. i believe in privacy too but you need to keep these records around. they are great for after the fact. they don't do much to predict a crime but after, absolutely. >> if the nsa is not going to keep all these records and the private phone companies aren't going to keep these records, where are these records going to be kept? >> under some sort of a judicial authority, whether you put it out in utah in this nsa place or doesn't matter where. you just need to have a report of who gets into the databases and under what authority. it has to be under judicial that is right. again, probably cause and without that. we just don't want the fbi or the cia snooping around these records on fishing expeditions. with a warrant, i think it is
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justified. >> as you know, i'm going to bring jim sciutto into this conversation. a lot of people have criticized the fisa courts. we need to go listen in and we need a wiretap. do it. we can count on one hand the times they have said, it is not a good idea. by adding a public advocate, you can hear a different side of the story. >> it makes it a real court. what other court only has one side represented. you need to have the other side. it wouldn't be balanced. you will have the prosecutors and the judge. it does give you an adversarial process, which is a bed rock of the way we do things in this country. i think when you look at the numbers of the fisa court, they tend to approve 99.9% of these requests as it is. putting an advocate in there at least gives another argument. i can't imagine that's going to change that dynamic too much. at the end of the day, they don't come with as many requests as americans imagine, that those
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queries tend to have the backing you need. by putting in this process, it will increase confidence. what administration officials have said, a lot is about building confidence. there is an impression this is a mass domestic spying program, a mass foreign spying program. >> one man's safeguard is another man's roadblock. the fisa court would argue they consider both sides in every decision. if you add in another advocate and another side. >> here he is. the president is now at the justice department, getting a little bit of a standing ovation before his remarks. let's listen in. >> thank you very much. thank you. >> thank you so much. please, have a seat. at the dawn of our republic, a small secret surveillance committee born out of the sons of liberty was established in
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boston. the group's members included paul revere. at night, they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the british were preparing raids against america's early patriots. throughout american history, intelligence has helped secure our country and our freedoms. in the civil war, union balloons, reconnaissance tracked the size of confederate armies by counting the number of campfires. in world war ii, code breakers gave us insight into japanese war planes and when patton mauf marched across europe, they helped the troops. nuclear weapons only increased the need for sustained intelligence gathering. in the early days of the cold war, president truman created the national security agency through nsa to give us insights
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into the soviet block and provide our leaders with information they needed to confront aggression and avert catastrophe. throughout this evolution, we benefited from both our constitution and our traditions of limited government. u.s. intelligence agencies were anchored in a system of checks and balances with oversight from elected leaders and protections for ordinary citizens. meanwhile, totalitarian states like east germany offered a cautionary tale of what could happen when vast unchecked surveillance turned citizens into informers and persecuted people for what they said in the privacy of their own homes. in fact, even the united states proved to not be immune to the abuse of surveillance. in the 1960s, government spied on civil rights leaders and critics of the vietnam war.
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partly in response to these revelations, additional laws were established in the 1970s to ensure that our intelligence capabilities could not be misused against our citizens. in the long twilight struggle against communism, we had been reminded that the very liberties that we sought to preserve could not be sacrificed at the altar of national security. if the fall of the soviet union left america without a competing super power, emerging threats from terrorist groups an the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction placed new and in some ways more complicated demands on our intelligence agencies. globalization and the internet made these threats more acute as tech followi technology erased borders and empowered individuals for great violence and great good. they raised new legal and policy
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questions. while few doubted the legitimacy of spying on hostile states, our framework of laws was not fully adapted to prevent terrorist attacks by individuals acting on their own or acting in small, idealogically driven groups on behalf of foreign power. the horror of september 11th brought all these issues to the forefront. across the political spectrum, americans recognize that we had to adapt to a world in which a bomb could be built in a basement and our electric grid could be shut down by operators an ocean away. we were shaken by the signs we had missed leading up to the attacks, how the hijackers had made phone calls to known extremists and traveled to suspicious places. so we demanded that our intelligence community improve its capabilities and that law
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enforcement change practices to procu focus more on preventing attacks before they happened than prosecuting terrorists after an attack. it is hard to overstate the transformation america's intelligence community had to go through after 9/11. our agency suddenly needed to do far more than the traditional mission of monitoring hostile powers and gathering information for policy makemakers. instead, they were asked to identify and target plotters in some of the most remote parts of the world and to anticipate the actions of networks that by their ve their very nature cannot be easily penetrated with spies or informants. it is a testimony of the hard work and dedication to the men and women of our intelligence community that over the past decade, we have made enormous strides in fulfilling this
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mission. today, new capablities allow us to know who a terrorist is in contact with and fool the trade of his travel or funding it allows information to be shared more carefully. relationships with foreign intelligence services have expanded in our capacity to repel cyberattacks have been strengthened. taken together, these efforts have prevented multiple attacks and saved innocent lives. not just here in the united states but around the globe. yet, in our rush to respond to a very real and novel set of threats, the risk of government overreach, the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security
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also become more pronounced. we saw in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, our government engaged in enhanced interrogation techniques that contradicted our values. >> as a senator, i was critical of several practices, such as warrantless wiretaps. all too often, new authorities were instituted without adequate public debate. the right combination of action by the courts, increased congressional oversight and adjustments by the previous administration, some of the worst excesses that emerged after 9/11 were curbed by the time i took office. but a variety of factors have continued to complicate america's efforts to both defend our nation and uphold our civil liberties. first, the same technological advances that allow u.s.
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intelligence agencies to pinpoint an all qaeda sell in yemen or an e-mail between two terrorists in the sahel, also mean many routine communications around the world are within our reach. at a time when more and more of our lives are digital, that prospect is disquieting for all of us. second, the combination of increas increased digital information and powerful super computers offers intelligence committees to sift through massive bulk data to identify patterns and pursue leads that may thwart impending threats. it is a powerful tool. the government collection and storage of such bulk data also creates a potential for abuse. third, the legal safeguards that restrict surveillance against u.s. persons without a warrant do not apply to foreign persons overseas.
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this is not unique to america. few, if any, spy agencies around the world constrain their activities beyond their own borders. the whole point of intelligence is to obtain information that is not publicly available. but america's capabilities are unique. the power of new technologies means that there are fewer and fewer technical constraints on what we can do. that place is a special obligation on us to ask tough questions about what we should do. finally, intelligence agencies cannot function without secrecy, which makes their work less subject to public debate. yet, there is an inevitable bias, not only within the intelligence community but among all of us that are responsible for national security to collect
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more information about the world. not less. so in the absence of institutional requirements for regular debate and oversight that is public as well as private or classified, the danger of government overreach becomes more acute. this is particularly true when surveillance technology and our reliance on digital information is evolving much faster than our loss. for all these reasons, i maintained a healthy skepticism toward our surveillance programs after i became president. i ordered that our programs be reviewed by my national security team and our lawyers. in some cases, i ordered changes in how we did business. we increased oversight in auditing, including new structures aimed at compliance, improved rules were proposed by the government and approved by
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the foreign intelligence surveillance court and we sought to keep congress continually updated on these activities. what i did not do is stop these programs wholesale. not only because i felt they made us more secure but also because nothing in that initial review and nothing that i have learned since indicated that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of their fellow citizens. to the contrary, in an extraordinarily difficult job, one in which actions are second-guessed, success is unreported and failure can be catastrophic, the men and women of the intelligence community, including the nsa, consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people.
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they are not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your e-mails. when mistakes are made, which is inevitable in any large and complicated human enterprise, they correct those mistakes. laboring in obscurity, often unable to discuss the work even with family and friends, the men and women of the nsa, know that if another 9/11 or massive cyberattack occurs, they will be asked by congress and the media why they failed to connect the dots. what sustains those who worked at nsa and other intelligence agencies through all these pressures is the knowledge that their professionalism and dedication play a central role in the defense of our nation. now, to say that our intelligence community follows the law and is staffed by
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patriots is not to suggest that i or others in my administration felt complacent about the potential impact of these programs. those of us who hold office in america, have a responsibility to our constitution. while i was confident in the integrity of those that lead our intelligence community, it was clear to me in observing our technology that changes in our technological capabilities were raising new questions about the privacy safeguards currently in place. more over, after an extended review of our use of drones in the fight against terrorist networks, i believed a fresh examination of our surveillance programs was a necessary next step in our effort to get off the open-ended footing that we have maintained since 9/11. for these reasons i indicated in a speech at the defense
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university last may that we needed a more probust public discussion about the balance between security and liberty. of course, what i did not know at the time is that within weeks of my speech. an avalanche of unauthorized disclosures would spark con t controversies at home and abroad. given the fact of an open investigation, i am not going to dwell on mr. snowden's actions or motivations. i will say that our nation's defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation's secrets. if any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe or conduct foreign policy. more over, the sensational way in which these disclosures have
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come out, has often shed more heat than light. while revealing methods to our ad ver sarries that could impact us in ways we may not fully understand for years to come. regardless of how we got here, though, the task before us now is greater than simply repairing the damage done to our operations or preventing more disclosures from taking place in the future. instead, we have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world while up holding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals and constitution require. we need to do so not only because it is right but because the challenges posed by threats like terrorism and proliferation and cyberattacks are not going away any time soon. they are going to continue to be a major problem. for our intelligence community
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to be effective over the long haul, we must maintain the trust of the american people and people around the world. this effort will not be completed overnight. given the pace of technological change, we shouldn't expect this the last time america has this debate. i want the american people to know that the work has gun. begun. over the last six months, i created an outside review group on intelligence and communication technologies to make recommendations for reform. i consulted with the pry rascy and civil liberties oversight board created by congress. i have listened to foreign partners, privacy advocates and industry leaders. my administration has spent counselless hou countless hours considering how to approach intelligence in the era of diffuse threats and
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technological revolution. before outlining specific changes, let me make a few broad observations that have emerged from this process. first, everyone who has looked at these problems including sceptics of existing programs, recognizes that we have real enemies and threats and that intelligence serves a vital role in confronting them. we can not prevent terrorist attacks or cyberthreats without some capability to penetrate digital communications. whether it is to unravel a terrorist plot to intercept malware that targets the stock exchange, to make sure air traffic controls are not compromised or to ensure that hackers do not empty your bank accounts. we are expected to protect the american people. that requires us to have capabilities in this field.
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moreover, we can not unilaterally disarm or intelligence agencies. there is a reason why blackberrys and iphones are not allowed in the white house situation room. we know the intelligence services of other countries, including some who feign surprise over the snowden disclosures are constantly probing our government and private sector networks and accelerating programs to listen to our conversation and intercept our e-mails and compromise our systems. we know that. meanwhile, the number of countries, including some that have loudly criticized the nsa, privately acknowledge that america has special responsibilities as the world's only superpower. our intelligence capabilities are critical to meeting these responsibilities and that they, themselves, have relied on the information we obtained to protect their own people.
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second, just as ardent civil libertarians recognize the need for robust intelligence capabilities, those with responsibilities for our national security readily acknowledge the potential for abuse as intelligence capabilities advance and more and more private information is digitized after all, the folks at nsa and other intelligence agencies are our neighbors, our friends, and family. they have got electronic bank and medical records like everybody else. they have kids on facebook and instagram. they know, more than most of us, the vulnerabilities to privacy that exist in a world where transactions are recorded and e-mail and text and messages are stored. our movements can increasingly be tracked through the gps on our phones. third, there was a recognition by all who participated in these reviews that the challenges to our privacy do not come from
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government alone. corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes. that's how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and smartphone periodically. all of us understand that the standards for government surveillance must be higherment gichbt unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say, trust us, we won't abuse the data we collect. history has too many examples of when the 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 on the law to constrain those in power. i make these observations to underscore that the basic values of most americans when it comes to questions of surveillance and privacy converge a lot more than
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the crude characterizations that have emerged over the last several months. those who are troubled by our existing programs are not interested in prepeating the tragedy of 9/11 and those that dismiss these programs are not dismissive of civil liberties. the challenge is getting the details right. that is not simple. in fact, during the course of our review, i've often reminded myself, i would not be where i am today were it not for the courage of dissidents like dr. king, who were spied upon by their own government. as president, a president that looks at intelligence every morning, i can't help but be reminded that america must be vigilant in the face of threats. fortune asl fortunately, by focusing on facts and specifics rather than
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speculation and hypotheticals this has given me and hopefully the american people clear direction for change. today, i can announce a series of concrete and substantial reforms that my administration intends to adopt administratively or will seek to codify with congress. fr first, i have approved a new presidential directive for signal activities at home and abroad. this will strengthen executive branch oversight of our intelligence activities and ensure we take into account or security requirements and our alliances, our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of american companies and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis so our actions are
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regularly screwed niz regularly scrutinized by my senior securities team. second, we will inform procedures put in place to provide greater transparency to the activities and fortify u.s. persons. since we began this review, including information being released today, we've declassified over 40 opinions and orders of the foreign intelligence surveillance court which provides judicial review of some of our most sensitive intelligence activities, including the 702 program targeting foreign individuals overseas and the section 215, telephone metadata program. going forward, i'm directing the director of national intelligence in consultation with the attorney general to annually review for the purpose of declassification, any future opinions of the court with broad privacy implications. to report to me and to congress
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on these efforts to ensure that the court hears a broader range of privacy perspectives, i am also calling on congress to authorize the establishment of a panel of advocates from outside government to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the foreign intelligence surveillance court. third, we will provide additional protections for activities conducted under section 702, which allows the government to intercept the communications of foreign targets overseas who have information that's important for our national security. specifically, i am asking the attorney general and dni, to institute reforms that place additional restrictions on government's ability to retain, search, and use in criminal cases communications between americans and foreign citizens
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incidentally collected under section 702. fourth, in investigating threats, the fbi also relies on what's called national security letters, which can require companies to provide specific and limited information to the government without disclosing the order tots subject of the investigation. these are cases in which the subject of the investigation, such as a possible terrorist or spy isn't tipped off. but we can and should be more transparent in how government uses this authority. i have, therefore, directed the attorney general to amend how we use national security letters so that this secrecy will not be indefinite. so that it will terminate within a fixed time unless the government demonstrates a real
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need for further secrecy. we will also enable communications directors to make public more information than ever before about the orders they have received to provide data to the government. this brings me to the program that has generated the most controversy these past few months, the bulk collection of telephone records under section 215. let me repeat what i said when this story first broke. this program does not involve the content of phone calls or the names of people making calls. instead, it provides a record of phone numbers and the times and lengths of calls. metadata, that can be queried if and when we have a reasonable suspicion that a particular number is linked to a terrorist organization.
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why is this necessary? the program grew out of a desire to address a gap identified after 9/11. one of the 9/11 hey jaijackers, a phone call from san diego to a known al qaeda safe house in yemen. the nsa saw that call but they could not see it was coming from an individual already in the united states. the telephone metada ta program was designed to map the communications of terrorists so we can see who they may be in contact with as quickly as possibly. this capability could also prove valuable in a crisis, for example, if a bomb goes off in one of our cities and law enforcement is racing to determine whether a network is poised to conduct additional attacks, time is of the essence,
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being able to quickly review phone connections to assess whether a network exists is critical to that effort. in some, the program does into the involve the nsa examining the phone records of ordinary americans. rather, it consolidates these records into a database that the government can query if it has a specific lead. a consolidation of phone records that the company already maintains for business purposes. the review group turned up no indication that this database has been intentionally abused and i believe it is important that the capability that this program is designed to meet is preserved. having said that, i believe critics are right to point out
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that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to obtain more information about our private lives and open the door to more intrusive bulk collection programs in the future. they are also right to point out that although the telephone bulk collection program was subject to oversight by the foreign inat the generals surveillance court and has been reauthorized repeatedly by congress,it has never been subject to vigorous public debate. for all these reasons, i believe we need a new approach. i am, therefore, ordering a transition that will end the section 215 bulk metadata program, as it currently exists and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata. this will not be simple.
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the review group recommended that our current approach be replaced by one in which the providers or a third party retain the bulk records with government accessing information as needed. both of these options pose problems. relying solely on the records of multiple providers, for example, could require companies to alter their procedures in ways that raise new privacy concerns. on the other hand, any third party maintaining a single con sal dated database would be carrying out what is essentially a government function but with more expense and more legal am big uity and less accountability, all of which would have a doubtful impact on increasing public confidence that their privacy is being protected. during the review process, some suggested we may be able to
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preserve the capabilities we need. more work needs to be done to determine exactly how this system might work. because of the challenges involved, i have ordered that the transition away from the existing program will proceed in two steps. effective immediately, we will only pursue phone calls that are two steps removed from the number associated with the terrorist organization instead of the current three. i have directed to the attorney general to work with the foreign intelligence surveillance court so that during this transition period, the database can be queried only after a judicial finding or in the case of a true emergency. next, step two. i've instructed the intelligence community and the attorney general to use this transition
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period to develop options for a new approach that can match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the section 215 program was designed to address without the government holding this metadata itself. they will report back to me with alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization on march 28th. during this period, i will consult with the relevant committees in congress to seek their views and seek congressional aut sdplahorizati the new program as needed. the reforms i'm proposal today should give the american people greater confidence that their rights are being protected even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe. i recognize there are additional issues that require further debate.
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for example, some that participated in our review as well as some members of congress. would like to see more sweeping reforms to the use of national security letters. so we have to go to a judge each time before issuing these requests. here i have concerns that we should not set a standard for terrorism investigations that is higher than those involved in investigating an ordinary crime. i agree that greater oversight on the use of these letters may be appropriate. i'm prepared to work with congress on this issue. there are also those that would like to see different changes to the fisa court than the ones i proposed on all these issues, i'm open to working with congress to ensure we build a broad consensus on how to move forward. i am confident we can shape an approach that meets our security let me now turn to the separate set of concerns that have been raised overseas.
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and focus on america's approach to intelligence collection abroad. as i have indicated, the united states has unique responsibilities when it comes to intelligence collection. our capabilities help protect not only our nation, but our friends and our allies, as well. but our efforts will only be effective if ordinary citizens in other countries have confidence that the united states respects their privacy too. and the leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that i want to know what they think about an issue, i'll pick up the phone and call them. rather than turning to surveillance. in other words, just as we balance security and privacy at home, our global leadership demands that we balance our security requirements against our need to maintain the trust and cooperation among people and leaders around the world.
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for that reason, the new presidential directive that i've issued today will clearly prescribe what we do and do not do when it comes to our overseas surveillance. to begin with, the directive makes clear that the united states only oh uses signals intelligence for legitimate national security purposes, and not for the purpose of indiscriminately reviewing the e-mails or phone calls of ordinary folks. i've also made it clear that the united states does not collect intelligence to suppress criticism tore dissent, nor do we collect intelligence to disadvantage people on the basis of their ethnicity or race or gender or sexual orientation or religious beliefs. we do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to u.s. companies. or u.s. commercial sectors. and in terms of our bulk collection of signals intelligence, u.s. intelligence
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agencies will only use such data to meet specific security requirements. counter intelligence, counterterrorism, counter proliferation, cyber security, forced protection for our troops and our allies, and combatting transnational crime, including sanctions. in this directive, i have taken the unprecedented set of of extending certain protections that we have for the american people to people overseas. i have directed the dni in consultation with the attorney general to develop these safeguards, which will limit the duration that we can hold personal information, while also restricting the use of this information. the bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the united states is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national
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security. and we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures. this applies to foreign leaders, as well. given the understandable attention that this issue has received, i've made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies. and i've instructed my national security team, as well as the intelligence community, to work with foreign counterparts to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust going forward. now, let me be clear. our intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments, as opposed to ordinary citizens around the world. in the same way that the intelligence services of every other nation does.
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we will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective. but heads of state in government with whom we work closely and on whose cooperation we depend should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners. and the changes i've ordered do just that. finally, to make sure that we follow through on all these reforms, i'm making some important changes to how our government is organized. the state department will designate a senior officer to coordinate our diplomacy on issues related to technology and signals intelligence. we will appoint a senior official at the white house to implement the new privacy safeguards that i have announced today. i will devote the resources to centralize and approve the foreign requests for legal
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assistants, keeping our high standards for privacy, while helping foreign partners fight crime and terrorism. i've also asked my counselor, john depodesta, to lead a comprehensive review of big data and privacy. and this group will consist of government officials who, along with the president's council of advisers on science and technology, will reach out to privacy experts, technologists and business leaders and look how the challenges inherent in big data are being confronted by both the public and private sectors. whether we can forge international norms on how to manage this data. and how we can continue to promote the free flow of information in ways that are consistent with both privacy and security. for ultimately, what's at stake in this debate goes far beyond a
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few months of headlines or passing tensions in our foreign policy. when you cut through the noise, what's really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed. whether it's the ability of individuals to communicate ideas, to access information that would have once filled every great library in every country in the world, or to forge bonds with people on the other sides of the globe, technology is remaking what is possible for individuals and for institutions and for the international order. so all the reforms i've announced will point us in a new direction, i am mindful that more work will be needed in the future. one thing i'm certain of, this debate will make us stronger.
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and i also know that in this time of change, the united states of america will have to lead. it may seem sometimes that america is being held to a different standard. and i'll admit, the readiness of some to assume the worst motives by our government can be frustrating. no one expects china to have an open debate about their surveillance programs. or russia to take privacy concerns of citizens and other places into account. but let's remember, we are held to a different standard, precisely because we have been at the forefront of defending personal privacy and human dignity. as the nation that developed the internet, the world expects us to ensure that the digital revolution works as a tool for individual empowerment, not
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government control. having faced down the dangers of totalitarianism and fascism and communism, the world expects us to stand up for the principle that every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely. because individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress. those values make us who we are. and because of the strength of our own democracy, we should not shy away from high expectations. for more than two centuries, our constitution has weathered every type of change, because we have been willing to defend it. and because we have been willing to question the actions that have been taken in its defense. today is no different.
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i believe we can meet high expectations. together, let us chart a way forward that secures the life of our nation while preserving the liberties that make our nation worth fighting for. thank you, god bless you, may god bless the united states of america. >> thank you. the president of the united states at the u.s. justice department, outlining a series of reforms to nsa surveillance. some will say he didn't go far enough. others will say he went too far. there's a lot to dissect and digest right now. a lot to understand. i'm wolf blitzer here in washington. once again, we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. jim sciutto, you're our chief national security correspondent. what did you take away from that? >> i would say it was a thoughtful but confident speech. i think it's clear that there are things the president is willing to apologize for and
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explain, but things he's not going to. for instance, he said he went too far with the spying on foreign leaders. he said if i want to talk to angela merkel, i'll call her on the telephone. he talked about -- acknowledged there is a perception this went too far and that's something the u.s. is held to a higher standard on. on the other hand, he made the case for why bulk collection is still necessary. why in today's world when you can build a bomb in the basement or post 9/11, you need this tool with more safeguards, but you need this kind of tool. he will say, i'm not going to spy on foreign leaders, but he does say i'm going to spy on foreign governments and it was a strappy line. our agencies will continue to gather information, we will not apologize because our services may be more effective. >> he sort of said this bulk data collection will continue. >> right. >> but he needs to work with congress and others to come up with a new way to do it. and he has to do it by the end of march. >> right. he's trying to put in some more safeguards here. there are a lot of things he left up to congress. what was interesting to me, wolf, he made the point, and i
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think he's right, that for intelligence to be effective, it has to have the trust of the american people. the american people cannot believe they're being spied on willy-nilly for no particular reason. and i think a concern of this administration has been not just in the wake of snowed, but before, with the controversy over drones. they need to demystify to a certain degree just exactly what we are doing. so what struck me today about what the president said is, we're going to keep this court, okay, but eventually we're going to declassify some of those opinions that they offer, so you lift the veil a little bit. so the american people can see just how they deliberate. what was interesting to me was he didn't suggest that you ought to change the way this court is appointed. right now the chief justice appoints members of that court. he -- he's going to leave that up to congress. if congress wants to change that. also, he didn't say what we would do with all of this large quantity of data


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