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story.lead_photo.caption President Barack Obama speaks about National Security Agency surveillance Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington. - Photo by AP/Charles Dharapak

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is ordering changes to the government's collection of phone records that he says will end the program "as it currently exists."

Obama said in a speech at the Justice Department on Wednesday that intelligence officials have not intentionally abused the program to invade privacy.

But, he also said, he thinks critics of the program have been right to argue that without proper safeguards, the collection could be used to obtain more information about American's private lives and open the door to more intrusive programs.

Obama announced the changes after a months-long review spurred by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden's leaks about secret surveillance programs.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Obama's proposed changes to NSA spy program


Effective immediately, the National Security Agency will be required to get a secretive court's permission before accessing phone records that are collected from hundreds of millions of Americans.

Also, the government will no longer be able to access phone records beyond two "hops" from the person they are targeting. That means the government can't access records for someone who called someone who called someone who called the suspect.


No longer will national security letters be kept secret indefinitely.


Revelations that the U.S. monitored the communications of friendly heads of state have sparked outrage overseas. Going forward, the U.S. won't monitor the communications of "our close friends and allies overseas" unless there's a compelling national security purpose.


Obama is issuing a presidential directive that outlines what the government uses intelligence for, and what purposes are prohibited.


Obama called for a panel of outside advocates that can represent privacy and civil liberty concerns before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Those advocates would be present in for cases where the court is considering issues that are novel or significant — for instance, cases that raise a new issue the court hasn't dealt with previously.


Obama is directing the State Department to appoint a senior officer to coordinate diplomatic issues regarding technology and data-collection.

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  • Goad
    January 17, 2014 at 8:24 a.m.

    When it all comes out, this will be a BushChaney program which has only been carried forward by the beauracacy. Once again, a case of the 1% feeling like they can do whatever to the 99% to protect their power.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    January 17, 2014 at 10:50 a.m.

    Goad. Yep that is about right. And another thing, what this president says does not mean it will happen. This with his track record of telling the truth.

  • Pacorabone
    January 17, 2014 at 11:09 a.m.

    Blah blah blah... Oh... And if you like your current health insurance policy and your doctor... you can keep it... RRRRIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHHTTTTT

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    January 17, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.

    left out the period chiefmom, however you are correct.

  • sgtbob6606140841
    January 17, 2014 at 11:16 a.m.

    Bravo Sierra. A joke from 1977: How do you know when Jimmy Carter is lying? His lips move. Another way this president is like that one.

  • TheBatt
    January 17, 2014 at 11:31 a.m.

    Not exactly accurate summation of what the President said. A much better summary would be that he wants to limit the STORING of said information. The actually collecting of information in the first place has been one of his favorite tools

  • Fdworfe
    January 17, 2014 at 2:53 p.m.

    Maybe as usual I’ve overanalyzed the NSA, Edward Snowden issue. Then maybe I haven’t. Seems simple enough to me. Snowden violated laws; he violated his oath of employment loyalty; he figuratively spit in the face of every sincere American and countless foreigners; he continues to insult the intelligence of everyone who bothers to think. Privacy—of what? It’s largely a modern myth. It’s been going out for decades. Do we want technology, or don’t we? Do we want to be blown up by serial killers, or don’t we? Do we want to be better at intelligence gathering than our national competitors, or don’t we? On-and-on it goes, ad infinitum. Sure, folks have a point about their erstwhile ‘private’ stuff. We’d all like to think that our communications with Aunt Maggie aren’t front-page. But for all the paranoids out there: Just wait till technology can virtually read your mind! You and I probably won’t live to see it, but rest assured—it is coming. Or, we could do away with all chemistry, medicine and high-tech advancement and return to the Stone Age.

  • BruceMajors
    January 17, 2014 at 4:20 p.m.

    President Obama just finished a long, long disquisition on the NSA, which most critics viewed as an attempt to distract from this week's revelations about his Benghazi cover up, the continued economic crisis, and Obama's plummet in the polls.

    Here whistleblower James Bamford discusses how the NSA was created by President Truman without Congressional authorization, the only agency so created.

    James Bamford, an earlier NSA whisteblower, gave a great talk about the NSA at the National Press Club last night. In questions afterwards he stated that Obama was worse than Bush on civil liberties, we now live in a turnkey totalitarian state where everything is set up to turn on totalitarian control at any time, and that the left is mainly silent because Democrats are elected. It will be on C Span soon and on my BruceMajors youtube channel.

  • FreeSpiritMan
    January 17, 2014 at 6:56 p.m.

    Arkansas politics is headed back to the stone age, and I don't give a tinkers because the south is irrelevant in national elections with the current makeup of most southern legislatures. They have swung so far right, they can just stay there and get passed by the rest of the nation.

  • GrimReaper
    January 17, 2014 at 6:57 p.m.

    BS...........BS...........BS..!!! (for aimee) Would you buy a used car from this guy? Actually, tens of millions of Americans did buy a pig in a poke from him. is " If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." working out for you?