President Obama’s proposed changes on Friday to the federal surveillance programs means that, for the average citizen, everyday life “continues as usual,” says Jack Pitney, who was a guest on KCAL’s morning news broadcast on Saturday, Jan. 18. Pitney, the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics, was interviewed by KCAL anchor Suzie Suh, a day after Obama’s announced changes toward some aspects of the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records.
Although bulk call information (the numbers and times of phone calls made by Americans) will still be gathered, the likelihood that those records would be analyzed by the government is probably “miniscule,” Pitney told Suh. “The question is: Where is (the information) going to be stored? … That’s still an unresolved question.”
President Obama’s steps to change some aspects of NSA info-gathering and surveillance has been controversial, Suh said, asking the CMC professor why that is. “It’s controversial because he’s catching fire from both sides,” Pitney says, noting that privacy advocates are “very skeptical.”
But Pitney says this kind of controversy is not unusual. Once in the Oval Office and learning about issues at a present, deeper level, it’s not atypical for a president to change course. He gave the example of President Bill Clinton taking office in 1992, and changing his views on leniency toward Haitian refugees.
Pitney’s interview, just under five minutes, can be watched here.