President Obama’s first public comments on his plan to end NSA bulk surveillance couched it as a chance to “win back the trust of ordinary citizens.” It is a very telling choice of words, as the rebranding effort seems much more significant than the reality of the plan.
President Obama has made no bones about how comfortable he was with the status quo, and his promises of reform have all been half-measures and empty pledges of studies that don’t amount to any real changes.
The plan is being closely linked to a House bill by Reps. Mike Rogers (R – MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D – MD), who have both been extremely pro-surveillance. Their bill ends “bulk” surveillance, but replaces it with an obliteration of the standards under which individual surveillance can take place, allowing the NSA to effectively replace a single program of surveillance against all Americans with a new program of surveillance that will target virtually everyone individually on whatever flimsy pretext they choose.
The plan seems to be backed by Obama, and Rogers and Ruppersberger were both quick to embrace President Obama’s promise of reform as bolstering their bill. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – CA), the leader of the pro-surveillance crowd in the Senate, is similarly in favor of the Obama plan, which again points to the plan being about selling some paperwork shifting to the American public as a wholesale reform.