Getty Images - President Obama

President Obama is outlining extensive reforms of the nation's surveillance efforts, including "greater transparency."  In a major speech at the Justice Department, the President defended U.S. intelligence efforts and said good intel has helped secure the U.S. throughout its history.  He noted that 9-11 prompted renewed efforts to improve intelligence gathering.  He said it is "hard to overstate the transformation America's intelligence community had to go through after 9-11." 

The President argued that the reformed intelligence apparatus has prevented terrorist attacks and saved lives but acknowledged growing concerns about government overreach and infringements on privacy rights.  The President wants to end the National Security Agency's controversial practice of storing vast amounts of Americans' telephone data.  However, he called for more study about where the data will be stored.  Congress is expected to be involved in the deliberations.   

The NSA is at the heart of a national controversy over extensive eavesdropping and data mining.  The NSA controversy erupted when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released extensive classified data.  Facing criminal charges, Snowden fled the U.S. and was granted asylum by Russia.  In a brief reference, the President criticized Snowden for a lack of fidelity and said the leaks have produced "more heat than light."  Obama has spent weeks reviewing recommendations from a task force studying the NSA.  (Metro Networks Inc)