An independent panel's call for major changes to federal surveillance programs ups the pressure on President Obama to back serious reforms, reports Politico. The big changes the committee wants may be less vexing for Obama than one painful, half-buried conclusion: Vacuuming up all that data the National Security Agency collects in its call-tracking database, the panel says, hasn't done much to protect the U.S. from terrorism.
The panel said the program “has made only a modest contribution to the nation's security … and there has been no instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome would have been different without the section 215 telephony meta-data program.” The review group's report became part of a one-two punch delivered against the administration and the call-tracking program. It was issued two days after a federal judge found the program was likely unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's legal conclusions grabbed the headlines, but his opinion was also highly skeptical about what the phone data program had accomplished.