President Obama pledged last week that he would take "specific steps" to reform U.S. surveillance policy. This week, he proved unable to keep his word for any longer than a weekend.
What was the latest Barack-and-switch? Here's what Obama said Friday to reassure Americans about the NSA, with my emphasis:
... We're forming a high level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies. We need new thinking for a new era. We now have to unravel terrorist plots by finding a needle in a haystack of global telecommunications, and meanwhile technology has given governments, including our own, unprecedented capability to monitor communications.
So I'm tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities, particularly our surveillance technologies, and they'll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public. And they will provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by the end of this year, so that we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programs impact our security, our privacy and our foreign policy.
An independent group of outside experts, whose tasks include ensuring that there is no abuse and assessing the impact of surveillance on privacy. That's what he promised the American people.