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Here's the short version, outlining the major steps of the Obama's accelerated plan to increase "transparency" on our "National Security efforts," and to "reform of our laws and practices" with respect to those Intelligence Surveillance Programs:


Obama Outlines Steps To Reform Surveillance Programs

by RTT Staff Writer, RTTnews.com -- 8/9/2013

[...]
He said the first step is reforming the section of the Patriot Act that deals with the collection of the telephone records of millions of Americans.

Obama once again stressed that nobody is listening to Americans' phone calls but said changes can be made to provide additional confidence in the safeguards in place to prevent abuse.

Secondly, the president said he would work with Congress to improve the oversight of the programs by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC.

Obama acknowledged concerns that the FISC might be tilted too far in favor of security and called for civil libertarians to have an independent voice in appropriate cases.

He also said [3] that the surveillance programs can and must be more transparent and called on the intelligence community to make public as much information as possible.

Finally [4], Obama called for the formation of a high level group of outside experts to review the impact of high level communications technologies on how the programs are conducted.
[...]



Here's the longer version, with the specific details and rationales behind each of those 4 Steps.


TRANSCRIPT:  President Obama‚Äôs August 9, 2013, news conference at the White House

by Washington Post Staff, Friday, August 9, 2013

President Obama took questions from reporters at the White House on Aug. 9, 2013.


President Barack Obama:

[...]
In other words, it's not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well. And that's why over the last few weeks I've consulted members of Congress, who come at this issue from many different perspectives. I've asked the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to review where our counterterrorism efforts and our values come into tension. And I directed my national security team to be more transparent and to pursue reforms of our laws and practices. And so today I'd like to discuss four specific steps, not all-inclusive, but some specific steps that we're going to be taking very shortly to move the debate forward.

First, I will work with Congress to pursue appropriate reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the program that collects telephone records. As I've said, this program is an important tool in our effort to disrupt terrorist plots, and it does not allow the government to listen to any phone calls without a warrant. But given the scale of this program, I understand the concerns of those who would worry that it could be subject to abuse.

So after having a dialogue with members of Congress and civil libertarians, I believe that there are steps we can take to give the American people additional confidence that there are additional safeguards against abuse. For instance, we can take steps to put in place greater oversight, greater transparency and constraints on the use of this authority.

So I look forward to working with Congress to meet those objectives.

Second, I'll work with Congress to improve the public's confidence in the oversight conducted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISC. The FISC was created by Congress to provide judicial review of certain intelligence activities so that a federal judge must find that our actions are consistent with the Constitution.

However, to build greater confidence, I think we should consider some additional changes to the FISC. One of the concerns that people raise is that a judge reviewing a request from the government to conduct programmatic surveillance only hears one side of the story, may tilt it too far in favor of security, may not pay enough attention to liberty.

And while I've got confidence in the court and I think they've done a fine job, I think we can provide greater assurances that the court is looking at these issues from both perspectives -- security and privacy. So specifically, we can take steps to make sure civil liberties concerns have an independent voice, in appropriate cases, by ensuring that the government's position is challenged by an adversary.

Number three, we can and must be more transparent. So I've directed the intelligence community to make public as much information about these programs as possible. We've already declassified unprecedented information about the NSA, but we can go further. So at my direction, the Department of Justice will make public the legal rationale for the government's collection activities under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The NSA is taking steps to put in place a full-time civil liberties and privacy officer and release information that details its mission, authorities and oversight. And finally, the intelligence community is creating a website that will serve as a hub for further transparency. And this will give Americans and the world the ability to learn more about what our intelligence community does and what it doesn't do, how it carries out its mission and why it does so.

Fourth, we're forming a high level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies. We need new thinking for a new era. We now have to unravel terrorist plots by finding a needle in a haystack of global telecommunications, and meanwhile technology has given governments, including our own, unprecedented capability to monitor communications.

So I'm tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities, particularly our surveillance technologies, and they'll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public. And they will provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by the end of this year, so that we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programs impact our security, our privacy and our foreign policy.
[...]


I thought this was an especially poignant "balance point" -- indicative of the inherit conflict that exists "between patriots" and "between our competing interests" that each rhetorical group is trying to "protect":


TRANSCRIPT:  Page 3

President Barack Obama:

[...]
And let me close with one additional thought. The men and women of our intelligence community work every single day to keep us safe because they love this country and believe in our values. They're patriots. And I believe that those who have lawfully raised their voices on behalf of privacy and civil liberties are also patriots who love our country and want it to live up to our highest ideals.

That is quite the conundrum -- if only we had some serious, and somewhat transparent, system of "Check and Balances" -- to ensure these competing "patriotic interests" find a more realistic point of equilibrium.

We shall see ... as this 4 Step Plan unfolds ... Let the Patriots' Debates continue ...




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