WASHINGTON (AP) — In a sharp and unexpected shift, the national debate about U.S. government surveillance seems to be turning in favor of reining in the National Security Agency’s expansive spying powers at home and abroad.
It’s happened suddenly, during a span of just three days. First, a federal judge ruled the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone records was unconstitutional, and then a presidential advisory panel recommended sweeping changes to the agency. Together, the developments are ratcheting up the pressure on President Barack Obama to scale back the controversial surveillance programs.
Even Russian President Vladimir Putin chimed in Thursday. He said U.S. surveillance efforts are necessary to fight terrorism and “not a cause for repentance,” but he, too, said they should be limited by clear rules.
Obama is in no way obligated to make substantial changes. And, countering the public criticism he faces, he hears internal appeals from intelligence officials who insist the collection of phone and Internet data is necessary to protect the U.S. from terror attacks.