President Obama’s Friday “reforms” are likely to amount to little or nothing, and the biggest political hot-button issue, the NSA telephone metadata surveillance, is likely to be punted downfield entirely, according to those familiar with the plans.
The problem is that President Obama wants to keep the plan more or less unchanged, but admitting as much would be politically impractical amid growing outrage about it. His plan, rather, is to leave the matter to Congress.
Or at least sort of up to Congress. While officials are likely to give lip service to the matter being up to Congress, it is also a foregone conclusion that Obama will be throwing most of his support behind the Feinstein plan, which keeps the system intact and even grants additional powers.
The NSA collects all metadata about every phone call made, and keeps that data for an unspecified amount of time. The administration insists such data is vital for the war on terror, though the evidence suggests it has never been critical in a terror investigation and is rarely even consulted.