The president delivered remarks at the
In December, the president's
Obama also issued a presidential policy directive about U.S. SIGINT activities that he said will clearly prescribe what
And he said he has made clear to the intelligence community that
"What's really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed," Obama said.
"Whether it's the ability of individuals to communicate ideas, to access information ... or to forge bonds with people on other sides of the globe," he added, "technology is remaking what is possible for individuals and for institutions, and for the international order."
Over the last six months the president said he has created the outside
Everyone who examined the problems, Obama said, recognizes that
"Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes," Obama said. "That's how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically. But all of us understand that the standards for government surveillance must be higher."
Among the reforms, Obama approved a new presidential directive for SIGINT activities at home and abroad.
The guidance, he said, will strengthen executive branch oversight of intelligence activities and ensure that
Every year the administration will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets, the president said. The reforms will also provide greater transparency about surveillance activities and fortify safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons.
"Since we began this review, including information being released today, we've declassified over 40 opinions and orders of the
The president said he is directing the Director of National Intelligence, along with the attorney general, to annually review and when possible declassify future opinions of the
"These programs must always balance the need to defend our national security with the responsibility to preserve America's individual liberties and the president's decisions and recommendations will do that," Hagel said.
"They will help restore the confidence of the American people and our allies and partners, they will preserve important capabilities that keep us safe," he added, "and they will help the men and women of America's military continue to accomplish their missions all over the world."
Obama also is calling on
And the administration will provide more protections for activities conducted under Section 702, which allows the government to intercept the communications of foreign targets overseas who have information that is important for U.S. national security.
But in the interest of transparency, Obama said he has directed the attorney general to amend how the letters are used so such secrecy will terminate within a fixed time unless the government demonstrates a real need for further secrecy.
And the administration will let communications providers make public more information about the orders they receive to provide data to the government, Obama said.
Regarding reforms of Section 215, the bulk collection of telephone records, Obama repeated that the program does not involve the content of phone calls or the names of callers.
The program grew out of a desire to address a gap identified after 9/11 and was designed to map the communications of terrorists, the president said, and it consolidates the phone records into a database the government can query if it has a specific lead.
"I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk-metadata program as it currently exists and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata," the president said.
Because more must be done to determine how a new system will work, Obama has ordered that the transition proceed in two steps:
1. Starting now, investigators will pursue only phone calls that are two steps removed, rather than three, from a number associated with a terrorist organization. Obama directed the attorney general to work with the FIS Court so during the transition the database can be queried only after a judicial finding or in the case of a true emergency.
2. Obama said he told the intelligence community and the attorney general to use this transition period to develop options for a new approach in which the government doesn't hold the metadata but that matches capabilities and fills the gaps the Section 215 program was designed to address.
The president said officials will report back to him with options before the program comes up for reauthorization on
To make sure the reforms are put in place, Obama said he is making important changes to how the government is organized.
Obama also has asked his counselor,
"While the reforms that I have announced will point us in a new direction, I am mindful that more work will be needed in the future," Obama said. "One thing I'm certain of: this debate will make us stronger. And I also know that in this time of change,
American Forces Press Service
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