NSA ruling fallout hits White House

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[Commentary] In legal terms, a federal judge’s decision questioning the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s massive call-tracking program seems almost certain to have no practical significance. In political terms, it comes at a critical time for the NSA and President Barack Obama.

US District Court Judge Richard Leon’s ruling that the NSA’s metadata program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment was issued just three days after a review group established by President Barack Obama delivered its report proposing more than 40 changes to the federal government’s surveillance programs. President Obama was initially expected to dig through the reform proposals before Christmas and announce which ones he would adopt. However, the White House now says that process won’t be complete until sometime in January 2014. The delay gives Judge Leon’s decision time to resonate and gives surveillance skeptics more time to pressure Obama to endorse significant reforms after Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance practices. The ruling also underscores the awkwardness of a president who won office in part by railing against the national security state established by President George W. Bush trying to defend much of that establishment while also maintaining his vow to restore civil liberties and bring an end to what seemed like a permanent war on terror.


NSA ruling fallout hits White House