President Barack Obama on Friday said he wants Americans to have confidence in the government's surveillance through the National Security Agency.
To accomplish that he has announced the creation of a high-level task force of outside intelligence and civil liberties specialists to advise the government about how to balance security and privacy as computer technology makes it possible to gather ever more information about people's private lives.
Noting that he had questioned the program when he was in Congress, he said he supports changing the procedures and allowing an adversarial voice in he secret court that OKs electronic spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The court, created in 1978, was initially envisioned to carry out a limited role of reviewing whether there was sufficient evidence to wiretap someone as a suspected foreign terrorist or spy.
"The president shares the views that have been expressed by civil libertarians and critics of the government," a senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters ahead of the news conference. "It's not enough for him as president to have confidence in these programs. The American people have to have confidence in them as well."
It's about time.