The US government’s collection of bulk telephone metadata will cease “as it currently exists,” President Barack Obama said Friday. Instead, the National Security Agency and intelligence community will establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities needed without the government retaining large volumes of metadata. The Attorney General’s office and the intelligence community will collaborate to develop options for a new approach. They are expected to report back to the White House by March 28. “The reforms I’m proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe,” Obama said in a speech Friday in Washington, D.C. In addition, Obama announced a new presidential directive for signals intelligence activity abroad and domestically. He also announced the declassification of over 40 opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and directed the director of national intelligence to annually review future FISA opinions and report to Congress on privacy implications, and other policy changes. “While the reforms that I have announced will point us in a new direction, I am mindful that more work will be needed in the future,” Obama added. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the reforms will help “restore the confidence of the American people and our allies and partners” while preserving “important capabilities that keep us safe.” (Obama transcript) (Hagel statement)(AFPS report)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.