President Barack Obama has initiated a review of the procedures and methods that the NSA uses to collect intelligence at home and overseas to ensure that the agency isn’t overstepping its bounds in phone and Internet data collection.
The review comes at a time when Congress is set to consider several bills that may affect the way that the NSA and other agencies are able to gather information. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) has introduced the USA FREEDOM Act this week, which would restrict the way the NSA can gather intelligence, specifically by ending the bulk collection of data under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The bill will “rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC,” Sensenbrenner’s summary says.
Now, in a video interview with ABC News on Monday, Obama said that his administration is undertaking a review of the NSA’s collection methods.
“We give them policy direction. But what we’ve seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand and that’s why I’m initiating now a review to make sure that what they’re able to do doesn’t necessarily mean what they should to do,” Obama said in the interview.
The review, which Obama didn’t go into in any detail, is one of many results of the leaks of NSA collection methods from Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. Another outcome from all of the leaks and speculation is the ongoing series of hearings in Congress about the intelligence community’s methods. The most recent hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon before the House Intelligence Committee and it concerns potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, one of the laws on which the NSA’s data collection capabilities are built. That hearing will include both James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, and Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA.
Image from Flickr photos of Muhammad Ghafari.