Obama to ‘Overhaul’ Security Clearances System, Not Surveillance Programs

Obamaa will reject recommendations from his own handpicked review group to substantially overhaul the NSA

When President Barack Obama delivers his speech on alleged surveillance reforms on Friday, he will not be suggesting measures that will truly prevent future abuse of surveillance powers. He will be advocating for reforms that could prevent another whistleblower like NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

From The Hill:

The Obama administration plans to overhaul the nation’s security clearance system to prevent future intelligence leaks like the one by former defense contractor Edward Snowden.

The changes, part of a package of reforms President Obama is expected to announce Friday during a speech at the Justice Department, will include more stringent — and more frequent — vetting of security clearances, according to sources familiar with the administration’s plans.

Obama will embrace the panel’s recommendation that “security clearances become more highly differentiated and that a new clearance level be created to limit the sensitive material that information technology workers can access.”

Also, according to The Hill, “Those with security clearances may also be subject to ‘continuous monitoring,’ with things like changes in credit ratings, arrests, or suspicious reports from fellow employees becoming incorporated regularly into a review of employees’ clearances.”

Obamaa will reject recommendations from his own handpicked NSA review group and not adopted measures that could have made a “substantial overhaul to the NSA” possible. That includes moving NSA’s cyber defense group, the Information Assurance Directorate, to the Pentagon, and reassigning missions “other than foreign intelligence collection away from the agency.”

He already rejected splitting the NSA from US Cyber Command so a civilian could run the NSA.

Obama to ‘Overhaul’ Security Clearances System, Not Surveillance Programs

Obamaa will reject recommendations from his own handpicked review group to substantially overhaul the NSA

When President Barack Obama delivers his speech on alleged surveillance reforms on Friday, he will not be suggesting measures that will truly prevent future abuse of surveillance powers. He will be advocating for reforms that could prevent another whistleblower like NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

From The Hill:

The Obama administration plans to overhaul the nation’s security clearance system to prevent future intelligence leaks like the one by former defense contractor Edward Snowden.

The changes, part of a package of reforms President Obama is expected to announce Friday during a speech at the Justice Department, will include more stringent — and more frequent — vetting of security clearances, according to sources familiar with the administration’s plans.

Obama will embrace the panel’s recommendation that “security clearances become more highly differentiated and that a new clearance level be created to limit the sensitive material that information technology workers can access.”

Also, according to The Hill, “Those with security clearances may also be subject to ‘continuous monitoring,’ with things like changes in credit ratings, arrests, or suspicious reports from fellow employees becoming incorporated regularly into a review of employees’ clearances.”

Obamaa will reject recommendations from his own handpicked NSA review group and not adopt measures that could have made a “substantial overhaul to the NSA” possible. That includes moving NSA’s cyber defense group, the Information Assurance Directorate, to the Pentagon, and reassigning missions “other than foreign intelligence collection away from the agency.”

He already rejected splitting the NSA from US Cyber Command so a civilian could run the NSA.

It has been clear in recent weeks that this was all a fantasy, the idea that Obama was going to “overhaul” any surveillance programs or take on the surveillance state.

The New York Times described Obama’s strategy for responding to disclosures from Snowden as “trying to straddle a difficult line that will placate civil liberties advocates without a backlash from national security agencies.” In other words, he does not think much of anything needs to be done at all but he wants “civil liberties advocates” to stop nipping at his heels.

So, as the Times reported:

Mr. Obama plans to increase limits on access to bulk telephone data, call for privacy safeguards for foreigners and propose creation of a public advocate to represent privacy concerns at a secret intelligence court. But he will not endorse leaving bulk data in the custody of telecommunications firms nor will he require court permission for all so-called national security letters seeking business records.

The bulk metadata that so many Americans have learned gives government the power to intrude upon their privacy will be kept, preserving the potential for abuse. There will be nothing done to adjust the process of national security letters issued by the FBI, a recommended reform from the review group which received little attention but sharp criticism from FBI director James Comey.

Perhaps, unsatisfied with the outcome of this NSA review group report, the Obama administration will now have Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who oversaw the first review group, oversee a second review to further advise the president on what should be done. The agency’s chief, who lied to Congress, will remain in charge of the nation’s intelligence community—able to stave off reforms that would limit any powers. (more…)