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381 words - August 13, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
Weeks after former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden started to disclose classified information on National Security Agency (NSA) clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining program PRISM, President Barack Obama outlined four steps to give the American people a same "confidence" in these programs that he has as President.
Prior to directing his national security team to be "more transparent and pursue reforms of law and practices," Mr. Obama discussed with Congressmen and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to "review tensions between counterterrorism efforts and American values."
Firstly, the President called for a reform that would review "Section 215 of the 2001 Patriot Act" and the scale of the program that authorizes the collection of phone records.
Secondly, he said, "we can take steps to consider some change to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to make sure civil liberties, concerns, have an independent voice in appropriate cases by ensuring the government's position is challenged by an adversary."
Thirdly, the Intelligence Community (IC) should create a "website that will serve as a hub for further transparency," and the NSA should appoint a full-time civil liberties and privacy officer, along with the release of more information about its mission.
Fourthly, President Obama is forming a high-level group of outside experts to review all intelligence and communications technologies. "They'll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public," President Obama said.
Within the diplomatic community and according to DiploNews' sources, it seems that a fifth priority for President Obama should be to tell his allies why the United States spied on them so deeply and so extensively. The impact on the European public opinion has been very profound – and greatly underestimated by the US so far – and the Europeans have felt like the US has betrayed their trust, sources said.
A sixth priority should be to explain in what extent business and/or diplomatic intelligence targeting the European Union (EU) is part of counterterrorism efforts.
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