Despite President Obama’s pledge to increase transparency and curb certain aspects of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, a new Rasmussen poll shows the vast majority of Americans still need some convincing.
Only 11 percent of 1,000 likely voters polled believe the “president’s new policy” will make it less likely that the NSA will monitor the private phone calls of ordinary Americans.
Thirty percent actually believe the government is now more likely to spy on domestic phone calls, while a whopping 49 percent feel Friday’s announcement will do little to change the surveillance program.
On Friday Obama outlined a number of new steps designed to ease American fears after the June disclosure of NSA domestic spying programs by disillusioned contractor Edward Snowden.
Among those was a push to revise and clarify Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the controversial provision that the NSA uses to justify the boundless collection of cellphone metadata.
The author of Section 215, Wisconsin Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner, said the NSA was making “a mockery of the legal standard” and warned that Congress would vote to repeal that authorization altogether if the NSA’s position was not reformed.
The president also promised to appoint a civil liberties and privacy advocate to push back against government spying requests in front of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.
Only national security representatives are currently allowed to appear before the FISA court, which may account for why the judges have approved federal surveillance requests 99.97% of the time over the past 33 years.
Obama also pledged to appoint independent outside experts “to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies.” The group would consider such questions as “how we can maintain the trust of the people,” and “how we can make sure that there is absolutely no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used.”
On Monday the White House released a letter indicating that the head of this independent board would be James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who admitted to lying under oath about the NSA’s surveillance programs.
“It’s not enough for me as president to have confidence in these programs,” Obama said on Friday. “The American people need to have confidence in them as well.”
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