Intelligence Programs Reforms

nsa

Obama Announces Steps to Advance Surveillance Debate

Aug. 9, 2013 By Cheryl Pellerin – American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON– President Barack Obama today announced four steps that he said would move the public debate forward about classified government surveillance programs that gather data about the telephone records of Americans and others.

During an hour-long press conference at the White House, Obama said it is right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology reshapes every aspect of people’s lives.

“I’m also mindful of how these issues are viewed overseas …,” he said. “In other words, it’s not enough for me as president to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well.”

Over the past few weeks the president said he has consulted with members of Congress, asked the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to review tensions between counterterrorism efforts and American values, and directed the national security team to be more transparent and pursue reforms of laws and practices.

“Today,” Obama said, “I’d like to discuss four specific steps — not all inclusive, but some specific steps that we’re going to be taking very shortly to move the debate forward.”

These include the following –

1. The president will work with Congress to pursue reforms to Section 215 of the 2001 Patriot Act, the program that authorizes collects the collection telephone records.

Obama called the program an important tool in the effort to disrupt terrorist plots that does not allow the government to listen to phone calls without a warrant.

“But given the scale of this program,” he said, “I understand the concerns of those who would worry that it could be subject to abuse.”

After speaking with members of Congress and civil libertarians, Obama said he thinks there are steps that can be taken to give Americans more confidence that there are safeguards against abuse.

“For instance,” he said, “we can take steps to put in place greater oversight, greater transparency and constraints on the use of this authority.”

2. The president will work with Congress to improve public confidence in oversight conducted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC.

Congress created this court to provide judicial review of certain intelligence activities so a federal judge must find that federal actions are consistent with the Constitution.

But to build greater confidence, Obama said, “I think we should consider some additional changes to the FISC. One of the concerns that people raise is that a judge reviewing a request from the government to conduct programmatic surveillance only hears one side of the story — may tilt it too far in favor of security, may not pay enough attention to liberty.”

The president said looking at such issues from the perspectives of security and privacy might provide greater assurances to the public.

Specifically, he said, “we can take steps to make sure civil liberties, concerns, have an independent voice in appropriate cases by ensuring the government’s position is challenged by an adversary.”

3. The president said the government can and must be more transparent.

The president said he’s directed the intelligence community to make public as much information about these programs as possible.

“We’ve already declassified unprecedented information about the [National Security Agency] but we can go further,” he said. “So at my direction the Department of Justice will make public the legal rationale for the government’s collection activities under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.”

The NSA is taking steps to put in place a full-time civil liberties and privacy officer, Obama said, and release information that details its mission, authorities and oversight.

The intelligence community is also creating a website that will serve as a hub for further transparency, the president said.

“This will give Americans and the world the ability to learn more about what our intelligence community does and what it doesn’t do, how it carries out its mission and why it does so,” Obama said.

4. The president is forming a high-level group of outside experts to review all intelligence and communications technologies.

“We need new thinking for a new era,” Obama said. “We now have to unravel terrorist plots by finding a needle in a haystack of global telecommunications. And meanwhile, technology has given governments, including our own, unprecedented capability to monitor communications.”

The president is tasking the independent group to review U.S. capabilities, particularly surveillance 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,” Obama said.

The group will provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by year’s end, he said, “so we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programs impact our security, our privacy and our foreign policy.”

To others around the world, Obama said he wants to make clear that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people.

“Our intelligence is focused above all on finding the information that’s necessary to protect our people — and in many cases, protect our allies,” he said.

“It’s true, we have significant capabilities,” he added. “What’s also true is we show a restraint that many governments around the world don’t even think to do …. That includes, by the way, some of America’s most vocal critics.”

This is how the United States will resolve its differences, the president said. “Through vigorous public debate guided by our constitution, with reverence for our history as a nation of laws, and with respect for the facts.”

President Obama and various members of Congress are currently working to change laws on survelliance that were introduced by the 2001 Patriot Act:

Changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Feinstein (D)

ANNA ESHOO (D) INTRODUCES BILL TO END SURVEILLANCE OF AMERICANS BY U.S. INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) Co-Sponsors Bipartisan Bill to Reform NSA Spying Policies

Potential Changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) - House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rogers (R)

USA Freedom Act  – Rep. Sesenbrenner (R)

..

1/17/14 President Obama delivers remarks on Intelligence Programs Reforms 

Key Points From President Obama’s 1/17/14 Speech:

“today, I can announce a series of concrete and substantial reforms that my Administration intends to adopt administratively or will seek to codify with Congress.

First, I have approved a new presidential directive for our signals intelligence activities, at home and abroad. This guidance will strengthen executive branch oversight of our intelligence activities. It will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances; our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of America’s companies; and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. And we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis, so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by my senior national security team.

Second, we will reform programs and procedures in place to provide greater transparency to our surveillance activities, and fortify the safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Since we began this review, including information being released today, we have declassified over 40 opinions and orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which provides judicial review of some of our most sensitive intelligence activities – including the Section 702 program targeting foreign individuals overseas and the Section 215 telephone metadata program. Going forward, I am directing the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Attorney General, to annually review – for the purpose of declassification – any future opinions of the Court with broad privacy implications, and to report to me and Congress on these efforts. To ensure that the Court hears a broader range of privacy perspectives, I am calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a panel of advocates from outside government to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Third, we will provide additional protections for activities conducted under Section 702, which allows the government to intercept the communications of foreign targets overseas who have information that’s important for our national security. Specifically, I am asking the Attorney General and DNI to institute reforms that place additional restrictions on government’s ability to retain, search, and use in criminal cases, communications between Americans and foreign citizens incidentally collected under Section 702.

Fourth, in investigating threats, the FBI also relies on National Security Letters, which can require companies to provide specific and limited information to the government without disclosing the orders to the subject of the investigation. These are cases in which it is important that the subject of the investigation, such as a possible terrorist or spy, isn’t tipped off. But we can – and should – be more transparent in how government uses this authority. I have therefore directed the Attorney General to amend how we use National Security Letters so this secrecy will not be indefinite, and will terminate within a fixed time unless the government demonstrates a real need for further secrecy. We will also enable communications providers to make public more information than ever before about the orders they have received to provide data to the government.”

For the entire speech: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/read-obama-s-full-remarks-on-nsa-surveillance-reforms

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January 17, 2014

FACT SHEET: Review of U.S. Signals Intelligence

In the latter half of 2013 and early 2014, the United States Government undertook a broad-ranging and unprecedented review of our signals intelligence programs, led by the White House with relevant Departments and Agencies across the Government. In addition to our own intensive work, the review process drew on input from key stakeholders, including Congress, the tech community, civil society, foreign partners, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and others.  The Administration’s review examined how, in light of new and changing technologies, we can use our intelligence capabilities in a way that optimally protects our national security while supporting our foreign policy, respecting privacy and civil liberties, maintaining the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosures. On January 17, 2014, the President delivered a speech at the Department of Justice to announce the outcomes of this review process.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/17/fact-sheet-review-us-signals-intelligence

.

March 27, 2014
Fact Sheet: The Administration’s Proposal for Ending the Section 215 Bulk Telephony Metadata Program

 

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28 Responses to Intelligence Programs Reforms

  1. CR says:

    WH

    Friday, January 17,, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
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    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    President Obama delivers remarks on Intelligence Programs Reforms
    Department of Justice

    12:00 PM
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    2:00 PM
    2:45 PM
    Vice President Biden Speaks at the Launch of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas
    Washington, DC

    3:00 PM
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    • CR says:

      POTUS podium

      January 17, 2014

      WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

      9:30 AM ET
      The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General
      The White House

      11:00 AM ET
      President Obama delivers remarks on Intelligence Programs Reforms
      Department of Justice

      2:45 PM ET
      Vice President Biden Speaks at the Launch of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas
      Audio Only
      Washington, DC

      —-

      CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/

      9:30 AM ET
      State Department
      State Department: Sec Kerry Hosts Canada & Mexico Foreign Ministers http://www.c-spanvideo.org/event/230277

      9:30 AM ET
      White House Holds Event on Smoking and Health
      Surgeon General Boris Lushniak releases a new report on the health consequences of smoking. Sec. of Health & Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and senior White House officials mark the 50th anniversary of the first report on tobacco use.

      http://www.c-spanvideo.org/event/230288

      11:00 AM ET
      President Obama delivers remarks on Intelligence Programs Reforms
      Department of Justice http://www.c-span.org/Events/Pres-Obama-Remarks-on-Intelligence-Programs/10737443584/

      12:00 PM ET
      Congressional Internet Caucus on Tech Issues

      2:00 PM ET
      Brookings Institution
      Brookings: Obama’s NSA Speech

      ———–

      State Department http://www.state.gov

      9:30 AM ET
      State Department: Secretary of State Kerry Hosts Canada & Mexico Foreign Ministers

  2. CR says:

    Intelligence Programs Reforms

    .

    • CR says:

      Obama Announces Steps to Advance Surveillance Debate

      Aug. 9, 2013 By Cheryl Pellerin – American Forces Press Service

      WASHINGTON– President Barack Obama today announced four steps that he said would move the public debate forward about classified government surveillance programs that gather data about the telephone records of Americans and others.

      During an hour-long press conference at the White House, Obama said it is right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology reshapes every aspect of people’s lives.

      “I’m also mindful of how these issues are viewed overseas …,” he said. “In other words, it’s not enough for me as president to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well.”

      Over the past few weeks the president said he has consulted with members of Congress, asked the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to review tensions between counterterrorism efforts and American values, and directed the national security team to be more transparent and pursue reforms of laws and practices.

      “Today,” Obama said, “I’d like to discuss four specific steps — not all inclusive, but some specific steps that we’re going to be taking very shortly to move the debate forward.”

      These include the following —

      1. The president will work with Congress to pursue reforms to Section 215 of the 2001 Patriot Act, the program that authorizes collects the collection telephone records.

      Obama called the program an important tool in the effort to disrupt terrorist plots that does not allow the government to listen to phone calls without a warrant.

      “But given the scale of this program,” he said, “I understand the concerns of those who would worry that it could be subject to abuse.”

      After speaking with members of Congress and civil libertarians, Obama said he thinks there are steps that can be taken to give Americans more confidence that there are safeguards against abuse.

      “For instance,” he said, “we can take steps to put in place greater oversight, greater transparency and constraints on the use of this authority.”

      2. The president will work with Congress to improve public confidence in oversight conducted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC.

      Congress created this court to provide judicial review of certain intelligence activities so a federal judge must find that federal actions are consistent with the Constitution.

      But to build greater confidence, Obama said, “I think we should consider some additional changes to the FISC. One of the concerns that people raise is that a judge reviewing a request from the government to conduct programmatic surveillance only hears one side of the story — may tilt it too far in favor of security, may not pay enough attention to liberty.”

      The president said looking at such issues from the perspectives of security and privacy might provide greater assurances to the public.

      Specifically, he said, “we can take steps to make sure civil liberties, concerns, have an independent voice in appropriate cases by ensuring the government’s position is challenged by an adversary.”

      3. The president said the government can and must be more transparent.

      The president said he’s directed the intelligence community to make public as much information about these programs as possible.

      “We’ve already declassified unprecedented information about the [National Security Agency] but we can go further,” he said. “So at my direction the Department of Justice will make public the legal rationale for the government’s collection activities under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.”

      The NSA is taking steps to put in place a full-time civil liberties and privacy officer, Obama said, and release information that details its mission, authorities and oversight.

      The intelligence community is also creating a website that will serve as a hub for further transparency, the president said.

      “This will give Americans and the world the ability to learn more about what our intelligence community does and what it doesn’t do, how it carries out its mission and why it does so,” Obama said.

      4. The president is forming a high-level group of outside experts to review all intelligence and communications technologies.

      “We need new thinking for a new era,” Obama said. “We now have to unravel terrorist plots by finding a needle in a haystack of global telecommunications. And meanwhile, technology has given governments, including our own, unprecedented capability to monitor communications.”

      The president is tasking the independent group to review U.S. capabilities, particularly surveillance 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,” Obama said.

      The group will provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by year’s end, he said, “so we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programs impact our security, our privacy and our foreign policy.”

      To others around the world, Obama said he wants to make clear that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people.

      “Our intelligence is focused above all on finding the information that’s necessary to protect our people — and in many cases, protect our allies,” he said.

      “It’s true, we have significant capabilities,” he added. “What’s also true is we show a restraint that many governments around the world don’t even think to do …. That includes, by the way, some of America’s most vocal critics.”

      This is how the United States will resolve its differences, the president said. “Through vigorous public debate guided by our constitution, with reverence for our history as a nation of laws, and with respect for the facts.”

      President Obama and various members of Congress are currently working to change laws on survelliance that were introduced by the 2001 Patriot Act:
      Changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Feinstein (D)
      ANNA ESHOO (D) INTRODUCES BILL TO END SURVEILLANCE OF AMERICANS BY U.S. INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES
      Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) Co-Sponsors Bipartisan Bill to Reform NSA Spying Policies
      Potential Changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) - House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rogers (R)
      USA Freedom Act  – Rep. Sesenbrenner (R)

    • CR says:

      Some information on metadata

      Wednesday, January 22, 2014 | Posted by Liberal Librarian – ThePeoplesView

      I have a confession to make: I worked for the phone company.

      No, not THAT phone company. And it wasn’t just one, but a few. For years before I hung up my CAT-5 cables for the pleasures of librarianship, I toiled away in the telecom canyons of downtown Los Angeles. I worked as a billing manager, which was a soul-destroying job, but paid my bills as I earned my library science degree.

      I’m sure you’ll ask: “LL, what does a billing manager do?” Well, I’m sure glad you asked!

      I worked with… METADATA! Swam in it, day in and day out, for 10 years. I became expert at SQL queries. Ask me to search a number and how many calls it made, and my query would have an answer in a few seconds.

      Of course, what I couldn’t tell you is to whom that number belonged. I couldn’t tell if it belonged to Ethan Kowalski of Peoria, IL, or Yves Hubbert of the Troisieme Arrondissement. I could tell you there was a call placed from Peoria to Paris, and bill accordingly. But that was about it.

      What is this phone metadata of which I speak? Again, glad you asked.

      The typical call detail record, or CDR, had these pertinent bits of information:
      Account number, so we knew who to bill
      Leg 1, or originating number
      Leg 2, or destination number. Combining legs 1 and 2 gave us a per minute cost.
      Call duration. That let us combine legs 1 and 2 into a billable structure.
      And that was it. The account number was just that, a number. Sure, we knew who it was, but only because we had a separate database with customer information. Someone seeing our CDRs without that knowledge wouldn’t know to whom the account belong.

      Legs 1 and 2 were just phone numbers. No identifying features.

      And, as I said, I worked for several companies in my telecom career. All had the same basic metadata structure.

      So, yes, when I created a bill, I would know whom Ethan Kowalski of Peoria, IL called. But that’s because I had information in a database which was not included in the raw metadata. And as far as I’ve read, all that the NSA had was raw metadata.

      The NSA doesn’t know who Ethan Kowalski of Peoria, IL, is from the collected metadata. That information isn’t included. However, it does have knowledge of numbers belonging to Taliban militants in the Swat Valley. And the only time Ethan Kowalski of Peoria, IL would come up on the NSA’s radar is if one of the numbers belonging to that militant in the Swat Valley was linked to his number. The only reason Yves Hubber of Paris, France would come up on the DGSE’s radar was if he made a similar call to the same militant. And for some reason, I don’t have much of a problem with that.

      “Don’t tread on my metadata” is a nice slogan for people who have no idea what metadata is. The likes of Glenn Greenwald have made it sound like it’s the keys to the kingdom. It is, at most, an investigative tool, to discern patterns. Any deeper investigation would require—*gasp*—a warrant. (On top of the warrants issued to collect the raw metadata in the first place.) I know, Edward Snowden wants you to think that NSA operatives are running around running wiretaps willy nilly. But, again, none of the document dumps indicate that.

      For more: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2014/01/some-information-on-metadata.html

    • CR says:

      Big Data and the Future of Privacy

      John Podesta January 23, 2014 03:30 PM EST

      Last Friday, the President spoke to the American people, and the international community, about how to keep us safe from terrorism in a changing world while upholding America’s commitment to liberty and privacy that our values and Constitution require. Our national security challenges are real, but that is surely not the only space where changes in technology are altering the landscape and challenging conceptions of privacy.

      That’s why in his speech, the President asked me to lead a comprehensive review of the way that “big data” will affect the way we live and work; the relationship between government and citizens; and how public and private sectors can spur innovation and maximize the opportunities and free flow of this information while minimizing the risks to privacy. I will be joined in this effort by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, the President’s Science Advisor John Holdren, the President’s Economic Advisor Gene Sperling and other senior government officials.

      I would like to explain a little bit more about the review, its scope, and what you can expect over the next 90 days.

      READ MORE: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/01/23/big-data-and-future-privacy

    • CR says:

      March 27, 2014

      Statement by the President on the Section 215 Bulk Metadata Program

      Earlier this year in a speech at the Department of Justice, I announced a transition that would end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it previously existed and that we would establish a mechanism to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata. I did so to give the public greater confidence that their privacy is appropriately protected, while maintaining the tools our intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to keep us safe.

      In that January 17 speech, I ordered that a transition away from the prior program would proceed in two steps. In addition to directing immediate changes to the program, I also directed the Intelligence Community and the Attorney General to use this transition period to develop options for a new approach to match the capabilities and fill gaps that the Section 215 program was designed to address without the government holding this metadata. I instructed them to report back to me with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization on March 28th. As part of this process, we consulted with the Congress, the private sector, and privacy and civil liberties groups, and developed a number of alternative approaches.

      Having carefully considered the available options, I have decided that the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk. Instead, the data should remain at the telephone companies for the length of time it currently does today. The government would obtain the data pursuant to individual orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approving the use of specific numbers for such queries, if a judge agrees based on national security concerns. Legislation will be needed to permit the government to obtain this information with the speed and in the manner that will be required to make this approach workable.

      I believe this approach will best ensure that we have the information we need to meet our intelligence needs while enhancing public confidence in the manner in which the information is collected and held. My team has been in touch with key Congressional leadership — including from the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees — and we are committed to working with them to see legislation passed as soon as possible. Given that this legislation will not be in place by March 28 and given the importance of maintaining this capability, I have directed the Department of Justice to seek a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program including the modifications I directed in January. I am confident that this approach can provide our intelligence and law enforcement professionals the information they need to keep us safe while addressing the legitimate privacy concerns that have been raised.

      • CR says:

        March 27, 2014

        Fact Sheet: The Administration’s Proposal for Ending the Section 215 Bulk Telephony Metadata Program

        On January 17, 2014, President Obama gave a speech at the Department of Justice on his Administration’s review of certain intelligence activities. During this speech, he ordered a transition that would end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it previously existed and establish a new mechanism to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata. The President made clear that he was ordering this transition to give the public greater confidence that their privacy is appropriately protected, while maintaining the tools our intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to keep us safe. This fact sheet describes the steps the Administration has taken to implement this transition, details the President’s proposal for a new program to replace the Section 215 program, and outlines the steps the Administration will be taking in the near future to realize the President’s vision.

        Ending the Section 215 Bulk Telephony Metadata Program as it Existed

        On January 17, 2014, the President directed the first step in the transition of the Section 215 program; that the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek to modify the program to ensure that:

        Absent an emergency situation, the government can query the telephony metadata collected pursuant to the program only after a judge approves the use of specific numbers for such queries based on national security concerns; and

        The results of any query are limited to metadata within two hops of the selection term being used, instead of three.
        On February 5, 2014, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approved the government’s request to modify the program.

        The President’s Proposal to Replace the Section 215 Program

        For the second step in the transition, the President instructed the Attorney General and the Intelligence Community (IC) to develop options for a new program that could match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 metadata program was designed to address without the government holding the bulk telephony metadata records. The President further instructed the Attorney General and the IC to report back to him with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization by the FISC on March 28th.

        Consistent with this directive, DOJ and the IC developed options designed to meet the criteria the President laid out in his speech — to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this metadata. The Administration has also consulted with Congress, the private sector, privacy and civil liberties groups, and other interested groups.

        On the basis of these consultations, and after having carefully considered the available options, the President has decided on a proposal that will, with the passage of appropriate legislation, allow the government to end bulk collection of telephony metadata records under Section 215, while ensuring that the government has access to the information it needs to meet its national security requirements. Under the President’s proposal, a new program would be created with the following key attributes:

        the government will not collect these telephone records in bulk; rather, the records would remain at the telephone companies for the length of time they currently do today;

        absent an emergency situation, the government would obtain the records only pursuant to individual orders from the FISC approving the use of specific numbers for such queries, if a judge agrees based on national security concerns;

        the records provided to the government in response to queries would only be within two hops of the selection term being used, and the government’s handling of any records it acquires will be governed by minimization procedures approved by the FISC;

        the court-approved numbers could be used to query the data over a limited period of time without returning to the FISC for approval, and the production of records would be ongoing and prospective; and

        the companies would be compelled by court order to provide technical assistance to ensure that the records can be queried and that results are transmitted to the government in a usable format and in a timely manner.

        The President believes that this approach will best ensure that we have the information we need to meet our intelligence requirements while enhancing public confidence in the manner in which this information is collected and held.

        The Path Forward

        Legislation will be needed to implement the President’s proposal. The Administration has been in consultation with congressional leadership and members of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on this important issue throughout the last year, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals the President has put forward. Given that this legislation will not be in place by March 28 and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities in question, the President has directed DOJ to seek from the FISC a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program, which includes the substantial modifications in effect since February.

  3. CR says:

    Congress Easily Passes $1.1T Spending Bill

    JANUARY 16, 2014, 6:21 PM EST ANDREW TAYLOR – tpm

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has easily passed a $1.1 trillion bill easing the harshest effects of last year’s automatic spending cuts after tea party critics chastened by the government shutdown in October mounted only a faint protest.

    The sweeping 72-26 Senate vote to fund the government through September sends the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature before a midnight Saturday deadline. The House easily passed the bill on Wednesday.

    The huge bill funds every agency of government, pairing increases for NASA and Army Corps of Engineers construction projects with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service and foreign aid. It pays for implementation of Obama’s health care law.

    A fight over implementing “Obamacare” sparked tea party Republicans to partially shut down the government for 16 days in October.

    • CR says:

      President Obama Signs the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014

      Published on Jan 17, 2014

      President Obama delivers remarks before signing into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, which provides fiscal year 2014 appropriations for projects and activities of the federal government.

  4. CR says:

    Builders Begin Work on More U.S. Homes Than Forecast

    Jan 17, 2014 5:37 AM PT By Lorraine Woellert – bloomberg

    The pace of U.S. home construction dropped less than forecast in December, capping the best year for the industry since 2007.

    Housing starts fell 9.8 percent to a 999,000 annualized rate following November’s revised 1.11 million pace, which was the highest since November 2007, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of 83 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 985,000. Permits (NHSPATOT) for future projects declined 3 percent to a 986,000 pace.

    Housing remains a mainstay of the expansion, with builders breaking ground on more projects as an improved job market boosts demand for real estate. At the same time, bigger gains in employment and incomes will be needed to overcome the decline in affordability as property values and mortgage rates rise.

    “The housing recovery is firmly entrenched,” Brett Ryan, U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities LLC in New York, said before the report. “As long as the labor market continues to progress along the path we expect transactions, homebuilding should all continue to move steadily higher.”

    Stock-index futures held earlier gains after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in March rose 0.1 percent to 1,837.5 at 8:32 a.m. in New York.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-17/builders-began-work-on-more-u-s-homes-than-forecast-in-december.html

  5. CR says:

    9:30 AM ET
    The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General
    The White House

    WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

    • CR says:

      Surgeon General’s Report on the Health Consequences of Smoking

      Published on Jan 17, 2014

      HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz, and others release a new report, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, which highlights 50 years of progress in tobacco prevention and control and presents new data on the health consequences of smoking.

  6. CR says:

    Industrial Production

    Released On 1/17/2014 9:15:00 AM For Nov, 2013

    Prior Prior Revised Consensus Consensus Range Actual
    Production – M/M change 1.1 % 1.0 % 0.3 % -0.1 % to 0.8 % 0.3 %
    Capacity Utilization Rate – Level 79.0 % 79.1 % 79.1 % 78.8 % to 79.3 % 79.2 %
    Manufacturing – M/M 0.6 % 0.3 % -0.2 % to 0.4 % 0.4 %

    Market Consensus before announcement
    Industrial production for November surged on utilities output but manufacturing was quite healthy for the month. Overall industrial production jumped 1.1 percent, following a 0.1 percent rise in October. The November index level passed its pre-recession peak. Turning to major components, manufacturing jumped 0.6 percent, following a rise of 0.5 percent in October. Motor vehicles played a key role in boosting November manufacturing output. Motor vehicle assemblies jumped to an annualized pace of 11.61 million units from 11.10 million in October. Nonetheless, output was quite healthy elsewhere. Excluding motor vehicles, manufacturing increased 0.5 percent after gaining 0.6 percent in October. Capacity utilization for total industry jumped to 79.0 percent from 78.2 percent in October. Analysts anticipated 78.4 percent.

    Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/economic-calendar/

  7. CR says:

    flotus-50th-birthday


    First Lady Michelle Obama celebrates her 50th birthday
    !!!

    .

  8. CR says:

    11:00 AM ET
    President Obama delivers remarks on Intelligence Programs Reforms
    Department of Justice

    WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

    CSPAN http://www.c-span.org/Events/Pres-Obama-Remarks-on-Intelligence-Programs/10737443584/

    • CR says:

      January 17, 2014

      Remarks by the President on Review of Signals Intelligence

      Department of Justice
      Washington, D.C.

      11:15 A.M. EST

      THE PRESIDENT: At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee borne out of the “The Sons of Liberty” was established in Boston. And the group’s members included Paul Revere. At night, they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early Patriots.

      Throughout American history, intelligence has helped secure our country and our freedoms. In the Civil War, Union balloon reconnaissance tracked the size of Confederate armies by counting the number of campfires. In World War II, code-breakers gave us insights into Japanese war plans, and when Patton marched across Europe, intercepted communications helped save the lives of his troops. After the war, the rise of the Iron Curtain and nuclear weapons only increased the need for sustained intelligence gathering. And so, in the early days of the Cold War, President Truman created the National Security Agency, or NSA, to give us insights into the Soviet bloc, and provide our leaders with information they needed to confront aggression and avert catastrophe.

      Throughout this evolution, we benefited from both our Constitution and our traditions of limited government. U.S. intelligence agencies were anchored in a system of checks and balances — with oversight from elected leaders, and protections for ordinary citizens. Meanwhile, totalitarian states like East Germany offered a cautionary tale of what could happen when vast, unchecked surveillance turned citizens into informers, and persecuted people for what they said in the privacy of their own homes.

      In fact, even the United States proved not to be immune to the abuse of surveillance. And in the 1960s, government spied on civil rights leaders and critics of the Vietnam War. And partly in response to these revelations, additional laws were established in the 1970s to ensure that our intelligence capabilities could not be misused against our citizens. In the long, twilight struggle against Communism, we had been reminded that the very liberties that we sought to preserve could not be sacrificed at the altar of national security.

      If the fall of the Soviet Union left America without a competing superpower, emerging threats from terrorist groups, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction placed new and in some ways more complicated demands on our intelligence agencies. Globalization and the Internet made these threats more acute, as technology erased borders and empowered individuals to project great violence, as well as great good. Moreover, these new threats raised new legal and new policy questions. For while few doubted the legitimacy of spying on hostile states, our framework of laws was not fully adapted to prevent terrorist attacks by individuals acting on their own, or acting in small, ideologically driven groups on behalf of a foreign power.

      The horror of September 11th brought all these issues to the fore. Across the political spectrum, Americans recognized that we had to adapt to a world in which a bomb could be built in a basement, and our electric grid could be shut down by operators an ocean away. We were shaken by the signs we had missed leading up to the attacks — how the hijackers had made phone calls to known extremists and traveled to suspicious places. So we demanded that our intelligence community improve its capabilities, and that law enforcement change practices to focus more on preventing attacks before they happen than prosecuting terrorists after an attack.

      It is hard to overstate the transformation America’s intelligence community had to go through after 9/11. Our agencies suddenly needed to do far more than the traditional mission of monitoring hostile powers and gathering information for policymakers. Instead, they were now asked to identify and target plotters in some of the most remote parts of the world, and to anticipate the actions of networks that, by their very nature, cannot be easily penetrated with spies or informants.

      And it is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the men and women of our intelligence community that over the past decade we’ve made enormous strides in fulfilling this mission. Today, new capabilities allow intelligence agencies to track who a terrorist is in contact with, and follow the trail of his travel or his funding. New laws allow information to be collected and shared more quickly and effectively between federal agencies, and state and local law enforcement. Relationships with foreign intelligence services have expanded, and our capacity to repel cyber-attacks have been strengthened. And taken together, these efforts have prevented multiple attacks and saved innocent lives — not just here in the United States, but around the globe.

      And yet, in our rush to respond to a very real and novel set of threats, the risk of government overreach — the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security — also became more pronounced. We saw, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, our government engaged in enhanced interrogation techniques that contradicted our values. As a Senator, I was critical of several practices, such as warrantless wiretaps. And all too often new authorities were instituted without adequate public debate.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/17/remarks-president-review-signals-intelligence

  9. CR says:

    2:45 PM ET
    Vice President Biden Speaks at the Launch of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas
    (Audio Only)
    Washington, DC

    WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

    • CR says:

      Vice President Biden Speaks on the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund Launch

      Published on Jan 17, 2014

      Vice President Biden delivers remarks at the launch of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund at the Department of State. January 17, 2014.

  10. CR says:

    WH

    Saturday, January 18, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    First Lady Michelle Obama celebrates her 50th birthday with a dance party

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
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  11. CR says:

    President Obama Throwing Birthday Dance Party For FLOTUS

    Jan 16, 2014 8:02pm By Arlette Saenz – abc

    First Lady Michelle Obama turns 50 on Friday, but President Obama is saving the big celebration for Saturday night.

    A White House official tells ABC News the president is throwing the first lady a dance party Saturday evening, a private gathering for family and friends.

    The White House is keeping a tight lid on the other details, but some information for the private event has trickled out in news reports.

    Friends and family have been invited to the White House on Saturday night for an evening of “Snacks & Sips & Dancing & Dessert.” Guests have been told to wear comfortable shoes and eat before they head over to the White House, where a lot of dancing will be on the agenda.

    nd who will join the president in feting the first lady? Over the past year, reports have speculated that singer Adele could perform and maybe even close friend Beyonce, who sang “At Last” as Barack Obama and Michelle Obama danced for the first time as president and first lady at the 2009 Inaugural ball, may belt a song or two for the birthday girl.

    While the White House has been quiet about the plans, it’s clear the first lady’s birthday is on the president’s mind. At a White House event Thursday, President Obama reminded the crowd that the first lady’s 50th birthday was quickly approaching.

    “It’s her birthday tomorrow so I want everybody to just keep that in mind,” the president said Thursday.

    Mrs. Obama herself offered a clue about what dance move she might choose to use to celebrate her 50th birthday.

    “I’m going to be 50. Yes, 50. Fifty. Fifty and fabulous,” she said at a children’s hospital last month. “I’m not exactly sure yet what I’m going to do, but it might involve some dancing. A little Dougie.”

    • CR says:

      Beyonce, John Legend fete Michelle Obama at birthday bash

      1/18/14 afp

      Washington (AFP) – Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday bash featured performances by pop stars Beyonce and John Legend, and appearances by a host of A-list celebrities, one prominent guest said Sunday.

      “Amazing. Incredible party,” political analyst Donna Brazile told CNN the morning after the festivities, about which few details were revealed by the White House.

      “Childhood friends there. People from the administration,” she gushed about Saturday’s exclusive celebration.

      “The most important thing is, Beyonce performed, and I have to tell you, John Legend sang ‘Happy Birthday,'” said Brazile, a longtime Democratic Party operative who ran Al Gore’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2000.

      “The most moving tribute came (from) (President) Barack Obama, who talked about the woman he met and fell in love with.”

      CNN reported that the party lasted until around 2:00 am, and was attended by actor Samuel Jackson, singer Smokey Robinson and basketball legend Magic Johnson.

      The Washington Post, meanwhile, wrote that actress and singer Jennifer Hudson was also on hand.

      The VIP guest list, The Post reported, also included former President Bill Clinton and his wife ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former Beatle Paul McCartney, former Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan and folk singing legend James Taylor.

      Michelle Obama turned 50 on Friday to great national fanfare, including magazine interviews and television profiles of her life and her role in history as America’s first African American first lady.

      Closely watched as a fashion icon and praised for social causes that include working with military families and fighting against childhood obesity, the first lady has polled a 65 percent popularity rate — a good 20 points higher than her husband.

  12. CR says:

    WH

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
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    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  13. CR says:

    January 18, 2014

    Weekly Address: Making 2014 a Year of Action to Expand Opportunities for the Middle Class

    Remarks of President Barack Obama

    Weekly Address

    The White House

    January 18, 2014

    Hi, everybody. This week, I visited a company in Raleigh, North Carolina that helps make electric motors that save businesses money on energy costs and cut harmful carbon pollution.

    And I stopped by N.C. State University, where engineers are set to develop the new technology that will make those motors even better.

    It’s part of my push not only to make America home to more high-tech manufacturing – but to make America more attractive for the good jobs that a growing middle class requires.

    And increasingly, we are. Thanks in part to our all-of-the-above strategy for American energy, for the first time in nearly two decades, we produce more oil here at home than we buy from the rest of the world. We generate more renewable energy than ever, and more natural gas than anybody. Health care costs are growing at their slowest rate in 50 years – due in part to the Affordable Care Act. And since I took office, we’ve cut our deficits by more than half.

    So we are primed to bring back more of the good jobs claimed by the recession, and lost to overseas competition in recent decades. But that requires a year of action. And I want to work with Congress this year on proven ways to create jobs, like building infrastructure and fixing our broken immigration system.

    Where Congress isn’t acting, I’ll act on my own to put opportunity within reach for anyone who’s willing to work for it. That’s what I did in Raleigh by launching America’s second “manufacturing innovation institute.” It’s a partnership between companies, colleges, and the federal government focused on making sure American businesses and American workers win the race for high-tech manufacturing and the jobs that come with it – jobs that can help people and communities willing to work hard punch their ticket into the middle class.

    I firmly believe that this can be a breakthrough year for America. But to make that happen, we’re gonna have to act – to create good jobs that pay good wages, and to offer more Americans a fair shot to get ahead. That’s what I’m focused on every day that I have the privilege of serving as your president. That’s what I’m going to be focused on every single day of this year.

    Thanks, and have a great weekend.

  14. CR says:

    *******************
    THIS POST IS NOW CLOSED NBLB

    Come on over to my newest post titled: ” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2014″

    ********************

    To get to the newest post click on “HOME” at the top of the thread

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