Obama's Main Idea for NSA Reform: 'No More Edward Snowdens'
Insider sources say little overhaul expected outside of enhanced scrutiny of security personnel
As President Obama puts the final touches on what is being billed as his "overhaul of the NSA," sources close to the administration have told The Hill that his number one goal is to stop any future whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.
Despite the strong public outcry over the extreme overreach of the NSA's suveillance powers—made public by former defense contractor and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—the president is expected to do very little in regards to any "substantial overhaul to the NSA," outside of increasing scrutiny of those given access to information about the agency's controversial dragnet programs.
The Hill, which reported on the reform package—set to be announced during a speech at the Department of Justice on Friday—says Obama is "embracing" plans put forth by a White House-appointed advisory panel, which recommends enhanced vetting of security clearances for NSA analysts and employees.
Critics have slammed the panel's recommendations as insufficient despite some indications that it had gone further than most expected, including the White House.
Citing "sources familiar with the administration’s plans," The Hill reports that the Obama administration will adopt recommendations designed to "guard against future Snowdens," explaining:
The panel recommended 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.
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.
[The White House] plans to continue to study another recommendation from the advisory panel to consolidate the background review process so that checks could only be performed by the government or a designated nonprofit entity, according to sources familiar with its deliberations. And the administration will examine implementing new restrictions on how and when cleared personnel can access specific information.
Separately, the president is expected to reject recommendations from the advisory panel of a substantial overhaul to the NSA.
Instead, Friday's speech is expected to focus primarily on "privacy protections" and "increases to transparency," sources report.