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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reports of intel chief leading ‘independent’ NSA surveillance review denied by White House

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Robert Gates and James Clapper, 2011
Madison Ruppert

The Obama administration is now denying the reports stating that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will lead the “independent” review of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs.

This choice was heavily criticized, which is hardly surprising given that Clapper lied under oath. Indeed, he himself admitted that he made “clearly erroneous” statements before the Senate.

However, the Obama administration is now stating that Clapper won’t actually be part of the group.

The review, part of Obama’s attempt to engender more trust in the government’s programs, will consist of yet-to-be-revealed members, according to the administration.

“Director Clapper will not be a part of the group, and is not leading or directing the group’s efforts,” Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman, said to The Hill.

“The White House is selecting the members of the Review Group, consulting appropriately with the Intelligence Community,” Hayden said, without specifying how they will be consulting with the intelligence community.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for director of national intelligence, similarly stated that the review group will “not be under direction of or led by” Clapper.

However, in Obama’s presidential memorandum issued to Clapper yesterday, he wrote, “I am directing you to establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (Review Group).”

“Within 60 days of its establishment, the Review Group will brief their interim findings to me through the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Review Group will provide a final report and recommendations to me through the DNI no later than December 15, 2013,” Obama added.

“If this was about “restoring the trust” of the American people that the government isn’t pulling a fast one over on them, President Obama sure has a funny way of trying to rebuild that trust,” Mike Masnick of TechDirt wrote yesterday. “This seems a lot more like giving the concerns of the American public a giant middle finger.”

Even after learning that the White House said that Clapper will not be leading the review group, Amie Stepanovich, attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, remained skeptical.

“It’s just inherently not independent, and it’s not likely to solicit any meaningful results,” Stepanovich said to The Hill, pointing to the fact that Clapper will still be playing a central coordinating role.

“We have a man who has confessed to lying to Congress, and in doing so, he has publicly exhibited his disdain for the oversight process that he is now coordinating,” she added.

However, Michelle Richardson, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, believes the review group could be successful if it meets certain qualifications.

If the group includes academics, privacy advocates and others who are completely independent of the surveillance agencies, the results could still be meaningful, according to Richardson.

“We really want this to be a fresh set of eyes who are going to look at this top to bottom,” Richardson said to The Hill.

“We don’t want it to be the same old folks having the same old conversation about programs they’ve already endorsed,” she added.

TechDirt’s Masnick remains also remains quite skeptical. He noted that the White House’s quick change of language is not quite a successful way to build rebuild the trust of the American people.

“Involving Clapper in the first place was a mistake,” Masnick wrote today. “Actually, having Clapper still on the job after his admitted lying to Congress was a big mistake. Dancing around the fact that he’s involved just is making the administration look worse and worse.”

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This article first appeared at End the Lie.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM - 9 PM PT/10 PM - 12 AM ET. Show page link here: http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at

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