After defending the mass spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) for six months, President Obama announced his reforms for the NSA in a speech today.
According to Forbes, President Obama stated, "I believe critics are right to point out that that without appropriate safeguards this program could be used to yield more information about our private lives and to open the door to more intrusive bulk collection programs in the future."
As part of his speech, President Obama cited Paul Revere in an apparent effort to justify the US government spying on its own citizens without warrants.
"At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee borne out of the “The Sons of Liberty” was established in Boston,” said President Obama. “The group’s members included Paul Revere, and at night they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early Patriots.”
Of course, Revere was not reading the email or listening to phone calls of hundreds of millions of Americans on a daily basis, he was spying on British forces.
President Obama then cited America spying on its enemies during the Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War that "has helped secure our country and our freedoms.”
But again, President Obama failed to mention that historic spying was on America's enemies, not on its citizens.
According to Mother Jones, President Obama's actual reform measures did not change any of the actual mass surveillance by the NSA.
Even though Americans will still be spied on, President Obama claimed the NSA would not bug anymore foreign leaders within some unspecified limits.
He also said that a database containing telephone records (obtained by the NSA) could only be checked by the NSA after it got approval from the secret FISA court, which does not answer to the public.
President Obama said a panel of advocates would be created by Congress to address privacy concerns, but it would not have any actual power to regulate the NSA's spying activities.
President Obama took a shot at Edward Snowden and The Guardian, which has carefully redacted names and specific details in its NSA reports: "Moreover, the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we might not fully understand for years to come."
Sources: The Washington Post, Mother Jones, Forbes