Lawyers for the Obama administration have presented four possible methods for retooling the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. While Obama had set a date towards the end of March to be presented with these options, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Office of Director of National Intelligence and the Justice Department have completed the assignment well ahead of schedule.
Here are the four options Obama has apparently been presented with:
- Phone companies retain the data. Under this plan, phone companies control their data and allow the NSA to access certain information upon request.
- Another government agency retains the data. This would provide another separation of power, instead of concentrating both the investigators and the data being investigated inside one organization. Candidates could include the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
- A non-telecommunications and non-government agency retains the data. This one is unlikely. Obama on the matter last month: “Any third party maintaining a single, consolidated data-base would be carrying out what is essentially a government function with more expense, more legal ambiguity, and a doubtful impact on public confidence that their privacy is being protected.”
- Scrap the program. A daring proposal, but come on, this one's a pipe dream.
Obama’s own remarks last month lean heavily towards one of the first two options, but it is unclear exactly when a decision will be reached.