“I can confirm we are not backtracking on what the president announced,” said national security council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden when explaining how the White House is backtracking on the role DNI Clapper will have in “establishing” a panel reviewing NSA surveillance.
It turns out that when President Obama wrote, “I am directing you to establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies,” he meant things like, find a room, make sure there are enough chairs, take lunch orders — that kind of thing. As a self-confessed liar, Clapper is not being given the role of leading the meetings or choosing the panel members — though no doubt he’ll be able to eavesdrop on the conversation.
“As we announced on Friday, the review group will be made up of independent, outside experts. The DNI’s role is one of facilitation, and the group is not under the direction of or led by the DNI.