Review of U.S. surveillance programs to be led by panel of intelligence insiders

The Guardian reports: The review of US surveillance programs which Barack Obama promised would be conducted by an “independent” and “outside” panel of experts looks set to consist of four Washington insiders with close ties to the security establishment.

The president announced the creation of the group of experts two weeks ago, in an attempt to stem the rising tide of anger over National Security Agency surveillance techniques disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Obama trumpeted what he said would be a “high-level group of outside experts” tasked with assessing all of the government’s “intelligence and communication technologies”.

However a report by ABC News, which has not been denied by the administration, said the panel would consist of Michael Morell, a recent acting head of the CIA, and three former White House advisers.

The list of apparent panel members prompted criticism among privacy and civil liberty advocates, who said the review would lack credibility and was unlikely to end the controversy over US surveillance capabilities.

If Obama thinks that Morell along with former White House officials Richard Clarke, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire, all qualify as “independent” “outside experts”, who else is he going to pick for this panel? Michael Hayden, George Tenet, and Dick Cheney?

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