President Obama announced a series of reforms to the country's surveillance practices on Friday at his first full press conference in nearly three months. The actions the administration is taking are many, and there's still a lot that's up in the air. One thing's for sure, though. Obama does not think Edward Snowden deserves any credit.
The major thrust of the president's new plan includes reviewing how the system currently works and reforming it. This is good! Obama plans to start with section 215 of the Patriot Act which gives the government broader authority to access so-called "metadata" like phone records. The president also plans to work with Congress to reform how the secret courts set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act work. The broad strokes of that plan include introducing an "adversarial" (read: privacy-defending) party into the proceedings.
The reforms should also have a macroscopic effect. In addition to these specific reforms, Obama says he's calling for more transparency from folks like the Justice Department and the intelligence community. He's also setting up a group of outside experts to review the country's surveillance efforts. "Given the history of abuse by governments, it's right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives," Obama said. "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."