who and what they are spying on?
The idea that spying on world leaders might have been authorized some time ago, and then just operated as an on-going project, without the direct okay of the current president, kind of sounds a bit off, doesn't it? It seems to me though, that this is exactly what could happen in a ginormous apparatus with significant leeway on a basic level. The point of having things loose is being specifically able to do things that aren't necessarily policy, but might be temporarily deemed useful intelligence-gathering methods. So let's say some officially-used lines are monitored to understand who is calling who and talking to who to get a picture of what alliances are out there--what good is it?
That's the problem. With monitoring the calls of suspect persons, you have a defined goal--what are they going to do and when are they going to do it? Monitoring international heads of state is more like, I dunno, recording gossip? There might be some utility in monitoring those lines--for trade information, maybe, but that isn't necessarily national security-level intell. In the end, it's more of a diplomatic liability than a benefit if the monitoring ever got exposed, like, you know, now.
I can sympathize with the Obama Administration having to shut this down over the summer over concerns that the Snowden revelations would cause a major freakout, but it looks like we are gonna have one anyway. And I sympathize with the many heads of state who might be wondering what cast-off thing they ever said or which contact made created a surveillance-level security threat--as if that was the criteria when whatever open-ended warrant was signed to make some other country's business our own.
I do believe the NSA might very well require some very stringent oversight. Here's hoping a lesson is learned. Also, that future presidents aren't blindsided by intelligence they should have known was being gathered. It's...(obscene, overstepping, absurd) most unseemly.