President Obama Seeks Balance in Plan for Spy Programs

Coverage Type: reporting
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20500, United States

As he assembles a plan to overhaul the nation’s surveillance programs, President Barack Obama is trying to navigate what advisers call a middle course that will satisfy protesting national security agencies while tamping down criticism by civil liberties advocates.

He has not tipped his hand much during the meetings he has held with intelligence officials and lawmakers before he unveils his plan as early as Jan 17. But some of the proposals under consideration are forcing him to decide just how much he is willing to curtail government spying in the interest of reassuring a wary public. The challenge was brought into stark relief when James B. Comey, who is the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was recently appointed by President Obama, went public with his objections to a recommendation of a presidential review group. The panel suggested requiring court review of so-called national security letters compelling businesses, under a gag order, to turn over records about customer communications and financial transactions.

President Obama is leaning toward extending broad privacy protections to non-US citizens and is seriously considering restructuring the National Security Agency program that collects phone-call data of nearly all Americans, officials familiar with the process said.



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