I was pretty disappointed to hear President Obama’s speech today and also with the accompanying policy directive. I think it falls well short of what ought to be done, and I thought he played fast and loose with facts and was extremely patronizing. Here’s how the EFF scored the suggested reforms (3.5/12 ain’t so hot):
How did Obama's NSA announcements score? Here's our filled-out card. pic.twitter.com/N3h8qJW5Hk
— EFF (@EFF) January 17, 2014
To be clear, Obama is not alone in bearing responsibility for these programs — Bush and Congress created this monstrosity in the first place, and many other officials have perpetuated them since. My disappointment stems more from the opportunity to do the right thing the president passed up today. Faced with evidence that these spying programs were horribly inefficient (dollar-wise), largely ineffective (no known terrorist attacks stopped by intelligence gathered under them), likely illegal, and publicly unpopular, he somehow chose to allow the worst of the programs to go on, and offered little in the way of a road map for implementing the reforms he did suggest.
I don’t hold out a lot of hope that Congress can pick up the rest of the pieces, unfortunately. There is some indication that judges like Richard Leon will bring some logic to bear, but I fear he’s an exception rather than the rule, in this case. Time will tell, and if anything, the call to write your representatives is only stronger now.