Last week in the Hague, Barack Obama seemed to have suddenly remembered the oath he swore on his inauguration as president — that stuff about preserving, protecting and defending the constitution of the United States. At any rate, he announced that the NSA would end the "bulk collection" of telephone records and instead would be required to seek a new kind of court order to search data held by telecommunications companies.

This policy change is a tacit admission of what Edward Snowden (and 2001 whistle-blower William Binney before him) had been claiming, namely that the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA and other government agencies does, in fact, violate the constitution of the United States. Obama's announcement looked to some observers as the first crack to appear in the implacable facade of the national surveillance state.

Dream on. The significant thing about Obama's announcement is the two things it left out: surveillance of the Internet (as distinct from the telephonic activity of American citizens); and of the rest of the world — that's you and me. So even if Obama succeeds in getting his little policy swerve through Congress, the central capabilities of the national surveillance state will remain in place.