Obama backtracks on promise to create ‘independent’ panel of ‘outsiders’ to review surveillance programs

Remember, it was just five days ago that President Obama promised to form “a high level group of outside experts” — an “independent group” — whose job would be to review the intelligence communities surveillance programs.

An indication that Obama has yet again been willfully attempting to mislead the American people was immediately evident in the fact that neither his memorandum instigating the creation of this panel, nor DNI Clapper’s follow-up, made any reference whatsoever to the composition of this group — no reference to its independence or that its members would genuinely be outsiders.

Having received a barrage of criticism for giving serial-liar Clapper the job of leading this panel, the White House has now reversed itself. Yet when it comes to following through on the promise that the panel will be independent, either Obama will have to retract his initial memo, or — more likely — he will soon issue some weasel words on the reason a group of intelligence insiders are the best qualified people to sit on the review panel.

National security council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says:

“The members require security clearances and access to classified information so they need to be administratively connected to the government, and the DNI’s office is the right place to provide that. The review process and findings will be the group’s.”

The panel is being directed to deliver its report within 60 days of its establishment, no later than December 15. That’s 122 days away and at this point, no one has even been selected to sit on the panel.

It typically takes an applicant 87 days to receive a security clearance to work at the NSA. Even if the process for panel members is expedited, the NSA will vigorously object to corners being cut since panel members will be looking at the most sensitive information that the government possesses.

If Obama really wanted this to be an independent review, he wouldn’t have set a December 15 deadline. The time frame looks like an exercise in pure cynicism. Superficially it creates the appearance of a desire to deal with this issue swiftly — for it not to become mired in bureaucratic inertia. But since — due to the deadline — the panel members will most likely all already have security clearances before being selected, irrespective of whether they have been employed by the federal government, they will be insiders.

I guess by President Obama’s definition, former NSA chief Gen Michael Hayden would fit the description of an “outsider.”

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2 thoughts on “Obama backtracks on promise to create ‘independent’ panel of ‘outsiders’ to review surveillance programs

  1. delia ruhe

    Rob Hager, a public-interest litigator who filed a Supreme Court amicus brief in the 2012 Montana sequel to the Citizens United case, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, has worked as an international consultant on legal development and anti-corruption issues. He has published an informative and deeply insightful article on the legal and constitutional implications of the American surveillance state.

    It took me most of the morning to work through this lengthy piece, but readers can’t help but come away with a much more 3-dimensional understanding of the legal niceties and the total lack of intention on the part of the Obama administration to deliver what the majority of Americans are now demanding/expecting.


  2. Norman

    To use a phrase from a former P.O.T.U.S., “There you go again”. IMHO, at this point in his career as P.O.T.U.S., the “O” is near totally inept, corrupted beyond the pale, is afflicted with the same medical issue that the said former P.O.T.U.S. incurred, the shadow government has a gun to his head, one of these or all of them.

    The more pertinent question needing an answer: “exactly where is he, compared to what the NSA believes the American public to be, that of possible terrorists? Shouldn’t he be included too, because of his “penchant” for lying to the America public on just about every issue as well as in destroying the middle class in this country to favor the Business/Financial elites.

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