My Slate colleagues will have plenty of analysis of the president’s big national security address. I’ll have less; this is a speech designed to defend and obfuscate and win a certain sort of foreign headline, not one designed to really inform. More important than the speech itself is the directive being issued as it’s given—the directive I’ve posted below. What starts with a lot of on-the-one-hand-ing about how spying is necessary gets into some promises about the stoppage of bulk surveillance, with caveats.
The limitations contained in this section do not apply to signals intelligence data that is temporarily acquired to facilitate targeted collection. References to signals intelligence data collected in “bulk” mean the authorized collection of large quantities of signals intelligence data which, due to technical or operational considerations, is acquired without the use of discriminants (e.g., specific identifiers, selection terms, etc.).