The White House Special Panel on NSA Surveillance agrees with Mark Udall: the NSA needs to be reined back. So what's it going to take to get everyone on board?
December 22, 2013

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), along with Ron Wyden, has been leading the charge for curtailing the NSA's domestic surveillance for as long as these revelations have been dribbling out. Turns out, the panel set up by the White House to look at the NSA activities in light of the Snowden allegations agrees with him:

The White House panel report, which some have criticized for not going far enough, said the NSA should end secret record collection, called for an independent privacy board, urged more protections for whistleblowers, and said the secret court that authorizes surveillance should be held more accountable. One panel member said the NSA provided no evidence that the bulk data collection programs had prevented terror attacks.

So after Peter King's segment of fearmongering over the great terrorist bogeyman thwarted by the NSA's over-arching collection of data, Udall just called it for the logic fail it was:

"The arguments for the status quo fell apart this week in Washington."

"It's now time to really fundamentally reform the way in which the NSA operates," he said.

Udall pointed to the 46 recommendations contained in the White House panel's report. They include the establishment of an independent privacy panel, the presence of public advocates at secret surveillance court hearings, and better protections for whistleblowers.

And while I applaud Udall for being on the side of angels, I wonder how effective this is. Despite the framing from the Snowden files (and I'm not sure if this is framing from Snowden or the media), this program has been in effect for far longer than the Obama presidency. And once that toothpaste is out of the tube, can we really hope that the NSA will be properly chastened and dial back their intelligence gathering? We know that intelligence gathering didn't stop after the Church Committee; it just went underground and unacknowledged. Black money funded bureaus with innocuous names or nameless espionage missions.

The simple fact is that technology advanced faster than our response to it. We are about two decades behind where we should be. But we're dealing with rather analog thinking in Washington DC in a digital age. How does Udall suggest we catch up?

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