Ever since Edward Snowden became a household name last summer, the National Security Agency had been bracing for the other shoe to drop.
And drop it did this past Friday, although somewhat softly, when President Obama announced several reforms to the agency’s surveillance programs. Among them: an end to eavesdropping on friendly foreign leaders, a transition of the collected data away from government control and more privacy protections for foreign citizens.
Obama came to these reforms somewhat unwillingly, after public outcry over the extent of the programs and pressure from privacy advocates — many in the liberal wing of his party — to curtail the vast collection of data.
That reluctance was evident in his speech announcing the changes. “As president, a president who looks at intelligence every morning, I also can’t help but be reminded that America must be vigilant in the face of threats,” he said.
Much remains unknown, even after Obama’s attempt to clarify current policy and point a way forward. Such as: How much (or little) leeway is a skeptical Congress willing to allow the NSA?
Regardless of how that question gets answered, Obama’s speech is the first step in curtailing the NSA’s data collection or, at a minimum, making it more difficult for some of these programs to continue in their current state.
The NSA, for finally feeling the Snowden chill, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at email@example.com.