I’m going to try live blogging the President’s remarks today on NSA. I’ve never done this before, so don’t be surprised if the whole thing comes crashing down in the middle.
11:15: The President gives us a few history lessons and a tour of intelligence policies of the last quarter century.
11:19 The President summarizes the impact of 9/11 and the success of the intelligence community in hunting terrorists. The changes in our intelligence programs has been successful, but the risk of abuse grew too.
11:21 The President trashes the past excesses of the previous administration.
11:24 America’s capabilities are unique, President claims. This is not correct. Lots of governments use big data for intelligence collection.
11:25 President appeals to the left, claiming to have stopped abuses and instituted new restraints, then to the right, by saying that the government, including NSA, has not abused its power and has consistently followed protocols to protect privacy.
11:27 “Now that I’m done with drones, it’s time to reform our intelligence community too” Unfortunately, President suggests, Snowden and his sensationalizing leaks have distorted the debate.
11:30 The basic approach guided by this principle: “We must retain the trust of the American people and people around the world.”
11:32 Basic observations: We do have real enemies and we need intelligence to protect the American people. We can’t unilaterally disarm. We’re targeted even by some of the nations that “feigned surprise” and international critics also recognize our special responsibilities. Second, inteligence community understands the risk of abuse. Third, we can’t rely on just the good intentions of government officials.
So far, this is a pretty good lecture, in the Obama style of rejecting straw men and seeking a middle ground at a high level of abstraction.
11:36 The reforms:
A presidential directive setting policy [...]