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What the President Didn’t Say in His Speech on Surveillance Reform

Statement of Danielle Brian, Executive Director,
Project On Government Oversight

We’re encouraged that President Obama today acknowledged the dangers posed to our civil liberties by unchecked and overreaching intelligence gathering. His speech sets the stage for important reforms.

It is significant that he noted the need to declassify Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions but there is still need for more reforms to end secret laws. In addition, Congress must act to protect the civil liberties of Americans and should not delay in passing the USA FREEDOM Act.

Today’s important discussion would not have happened if Edward Snowden hadn’t thrust the scope of the government’s activities into the open. Unfortunately, one major issue the president did not address was the fact Snowden did not have safe channels to make disclosures. If the president wants to prevent leaks, there must be meaningful intelligence community whistleblower protections.

Congress must finally act to ensure whistleblowers are protected when making disclosures to any member of Congress and independent federal agencies outside of the intelligence community, such as the Office of Special Counsel and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Congressional oversight is vital—the intelligence agencies cannot police themselves.

By: Danielle Brian
Executive Director, POGO

danielle brian Ms. Brian's areas of expertise include: National Security, Government Oversight, Wasteful Defense Spending, Ethics, Open Government, Whistleblower Issues

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Surveillance

Authors: Danielle Brian

Submitted by Tradition at: January 22, 2014
Any outside contractor e.g. Snowden having unqualified access and clearance of intelligence is mind-boggling. As always Fed. Admin. is proven to be incompetent in holding secrets. Protection Law for whistler-blower however tightly enacted, is not completely effective,(law is made to be broken) especially in the belt-welt area. Look at CIA, FBI & Police protection measures how effective they are. Fed needs a very elaborate screening process and information gathering compartmentalization of personnel that could then be effective (no guaranty).

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