Great news: Surveillance review panel stacked with intel leaders and WH staffers

posted at 6:41 pm on August 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Don’t you feel more confident in our NSA overlords already?  ABC and the Washington Post finds a number of familiar names on the panel created by Barack Obama to review the surveillance activities of the NSA and American intelligence in general.  In fact, you could call them the usual suspects:

A group of veteran security experts and former White House officials has been selected to conduct a full review of U.S. surveillance programs and other secret government efforts disclosed over recent months, ABC News has learned.

The recent acting head of the CIA, Michael Morell, will be among what President Obama called a “high-level group of outside experts” scrutinizing the controversial programs.

Joining Morell on the panel will be former White House officials Richard Clarke, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire. An announcement is expected Thursday, a source with knowledge of the matter told ABC News’ Jon Karl.

The Post’s Andrea Peterson reports that privacy advocates are less than impressed:

Privacy advocates aren’t happy with the composition of the group revealed so far. Some privacy groups believe that the White House will insist on all members having top secret clearances, effectively barring most independent privacy watchdogs from consideration for the panel. …

Michael Morell was a career intelligence officer, serving in the CIA for 33 years. He retired from his position as deputy director of the CIA earlier this year after serving two stints as the agency’s acting head during President Obama’s tenure.

Sunstein and and Swire are both former Obama administration White House staffers. Cass Sunstein left his position as the administrator of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in 2012, while Swire served on the Obama-Biden Transition team and as special assistant to president Obama for economic policy. Swire currently teaches at the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech. He previously worked in the Clinton White House where he chaired a working group on how to update wiretap laws for the Internet and has a high profile in privacy policy circles.

Richard Clarke is a former national coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism for the United States. He worked for the State Department during the Reagan administration and served on the National Security Council during the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush. Clarke also endorsed then-Sen. Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007.

Yes, nothing says transparency that appointing some of your friends and staffers to review your performance.  Morrell and Clarke are longtime establishment figures, but Sunstein is in a class by himself.  Don’t forget that Sunstein once suggested that government covertly disseminate propaganda to combat narratives it finds inconvenient.  In fact, as Glenn Greenwald himself noted in January 2010, Sunstein “propos[ed] that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government.”

Well, that’s a real confidence-builder, isn’t it?  We’re asking the man who, theoretically at least, proposed covertly infiltrating opposition groups in order disseminate administration-serving propaganda to provide us with greater transparency on government operations. What could go wrong?

And why no privacy advocates, at least thus far?  In one sense, that’s easy.  Regardless of what one thinks of the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities, they have a key role in signals intelligence and what they do needs to be highly classified.  People who spend their days issuing press releases are not exactly low security risks.  However, there have to be some people who can pass a top-secret clearance and can be trusted to provide the kind of input needed to give this panel some balance.  At least at the moment, the White House doesn’t seem to be terribly concerned about providing that kind of balance, which tells us most of what we need to know about their intentions for this panel.

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Spy

Bmore on August 22, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Deficit commission redeux?

Rich H on August 22, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Outside experts?

coldwarrior on August 22, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Oh, yeah. That’s really going to work. Just like Obama’s presidency. More and more freedoms lost. Impeach the SOB.

BetseyRoss on August 22, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Camera stellata — alive and well in Amerika.

coldwarrior on August 22, 2013 at 6:46 PM

They should just put Holder and Clapper on it and be done.

besser tot als rot on August 22, 2013 at 6:48 PM

This homosexual president is such a creep. The democrat Taliban labor day and night under this regime to take all your liberty, treasure, and privacy while politicising every mundane detail in life. To hell with them.

Murphy9 on August 22, 2013 at 6:49 PM

I bet the ‘findings’ of this ostensible blue ribbon fact-finding committee were written three days after the scandal broke.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Komodo dragons in charge of the hen house.

RushBaby on August 22, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Richard Clarke, the known serial liar? Good grief.

slickwillie2001 on August 22, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Why have a review panel? Obama already told Jay Leno we don’t not spy on our citizens. Why would our dedicated public servants lie?

Christien on August 22, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Nothing to see here, move along now!

Another Drew on August 22, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Why would our dedicated public servants lie?

They don’t, not wittingly; just ask the DNI.

Another Drew on August 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM

If Chimpy Bush had done this…

Del Dolemonte on August 22, 2013 at 7:04 PM

It is a revolving door of abject reprobates in D.C. You see the same names over and over. Worthless skinbags of sequestered carbon shuffling from one brutalist federal building to another abrogating the trust and liberty of all Americans.

Murphy9 on August 22, 2013 at 7:07 PM

“The fix is in.” Chicago style investigation…

Khun Joe on August 22, 2013 at 7:10 PM

If Chimpy Bush had done this…

Del Dolemonte on August 22, 2013 at 7:04 PM

…you’d have analogies from the media like Hitler using Goebbels as a “devil’s advocate” for anything.

I don’t even expect the GOP to fight this, because they’re Republicans. The party’s campaign slogan for 2016 might as well be:
“Come on, it’s been eight years! Is it our turn, yet?”

Aizen on August 22, 2013 at 7:11 PM

The Department of Transparency tells you that there is nothing to see here. Cass Sunstein is the worst of the worst. A true soviet stupor propagandist.

simkeith on August 22, 2013 at 7:13 PM

I bet the ‘findings’ of this ostensible blue ribbon fact-finding committee were written three days after the scandal broke.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Yeah, this is the 9/11/01 Commission all over again. Carefully selected to find no blame.

I see that the Voldemort of stories (that will not be spoken of) is still frowned upon.

Happy Nomad on August 22, 2013 at 7:16 PM

The party’s campaign slogan for 2016 might as well be:

“Come on, it’s been eight years! Is it our turn, yet?”

Aizen on August 22, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Better than 2012′s “Wanna see our Laffer Curve?”

Happy Nomad on August 22, 2013 at 7:17 PM

in January 2010, Sunstein “propos[ed] that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government.”

Gov’t sponsored trolling…. who knew???/

ted c on August 22, 2013 at 7:21 PM

I welcome our new NSA overlords.

myiq2xu on August 22, 2013 at 7:24 PM

The Department of Transparency tells you that there is nothing to see here.

These are not the droids you’re looking for.

myiq2xu on August 22, 2013 at 7:26 PM

ABC and the Washington Post finds a number of familiar names on the panel created by Barack Obama to review the surveillance activities of the NSA and American intelligence in general.

But both the ABC and Washington Post branches of Pravda are OK with that, because after all, this is yet another phony scandal, and the accusations are blatantly racist.

Besides, we have to protect ourselves from CIA informants armed with pressure cookers “hidden” in backpacks that blow up hundreds of people at a time…no heads blown off mind you, just limbs, but dangerous nonetheless!

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 22, 2013 at 7:34 PM

2 wolves and a sheep vote’n on what to have for lunch

roflmmfao

donabernathy on August 22, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Of course they stacked the “review” panel. That way they were sure to get the results they wanted.

GarandFan on August 22, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Don’t you feel more confident in our NSA overlords already?
===========================================================

After my E-Mail Pass Word was hacked by hackers,
and I think is was NSA,h*ll no,on the confident thingy!!

canopfor on August 22, 2013 at 7:44 PM

OT, but very significant

Schadenfreude on August 22, 2013 at 7:46 PM

So maybe I’ve heard about this only because I’m from Oklahoma, but it defies logic that ya’ll haven’t heard about those two AfAm teens driven by a white teen thirll-killing a 22-yo Austrailian man in Duncan, OK. A few newsy angles: 1) JEsse Jackson tweeted that he frowns on this sort of behavior 2) WH insists they don’t know anything about it 3) Media bending over backwards to ignore racial component of story 4) most stories don’t mention anyone’s skin color 5) police capitain talking to reporters keep saying teh boys were bored, ignores mounting evidence compiled by Australian media this might have been a gang initiation.

So, after months of weekly Trayvon/Zimmerman coverag, is HA sitting this one out? I’m not entitled to an explanation, but it sure would interesting to hear one, esp since Rush Limbuagh – who most people who visit this site listen to at least some – has spent large swaths of time on this for the last two days. Thanks.

King B on August 22, 2013 at 7:50 PM

OT, but very significant

Schadenfreude on August 22, 2013 at 7:46 PM

Merely reporting that is racist…sir. /s

That poor old guy. God bless him and keep him.

King B on August 22, 2013 at 7:50 PM

This story on the other hand smells, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve been offered manufactured rubbish at the expense of the good Citizens of Oklahoma.

Random killings by gang members was exposed as an urban myth ages ago. And I am surprised they included two black suspects in this one-makes it more believable given the gang inferences I suppose.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 22, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Sunstein “propos[ed] that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government.”

Seems legit.

GadsdenRattlers on August 22, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Since these are the very same people that have been spying on American citizens, how can they possible produce anything other than a document that supports expanding their reach?

In fact, would it really be a surprise if they recommended a new toilet cam regulation? That way they could keep an eye on every a…… in the country!

Freddy on August 22, 2013 at 8:34 PM

the most open & transparent Admin EVER, huh??

mmcnamer1 on August 22, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Oh look! … winking…. another thing he copies from Sarah Palin. heh.

ooonaughtykitty on August 22, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Balance?

Yes, between crooks and psychos, about 1/3 crooks, 1/3 psychos and 1/3 both.

VorDaj on August 22, 2013 at 9:20 PM

If anyone reading this thread actually didn’t see this coming, please throw yourself in front of a bus.

fossten on August 22, 2013 at 9:23 PM

So, after months of weekly Trayvon/Zimmerman coverag, is HA sitting this one out? I’m not entitled to an explanation, but it sure would interesting to hear one, esp since Rush Limbuagh – who most people who visit this site listen to at least some – has spent large swaths of time on this for the last two days. Thanks.

King B on August 22, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Apparently Rush Limbaugh is not as worried about the NSA and IRS as is HotGas, which maybe should be called ColdCaution while it remains in the shadows.

VorDaj on August 22, 2013 at 9:31 PM

VorDaj on August 22, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Good point, but he discusses that stuff as well. I don’t imply anything by pointing out the absence of this story from HA, I just find it a strange thing to overlook. Added to the angles I mentioned earlier, a deputy prime minister for Australia has been making the rounds warning Australians not to visit USA due to gun violence. Last time I check, Australia is a pretty close ally – there is a racial component in the story, but that’s not the only angle that can be pursued at this point.

King B on August 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM

King B on August 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM

If you want to see a discussion of the non-PC fearful on this matter you might look at AmericanThinker

VorDaj on August 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM

VorDaj on August 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM

I’ve been reading about it there and several other “red pill” sites, as well as how Rush has discussed it. The story is surreal, especially if you’re from that part of Oklahoma – I grew up 70 miles from Duncan and know the area quite well. Duncan is 3% AfAm but unlike other communities in the area there haven’t been racial hostilities in ages, at least that I’m aware of. I live in Tulsa now, which is quite famous for racial hostilities , but Duncan has no such history for several generations going (or who knows, maybe I’m wrong).

King B on August 22, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Of course they stacked the “review” panel. That way they were sure to get the results they wanted.

Sentence first, trial later.

Another Drew on August 22, 2013 at 11:38 PM

This is preemptive of more congressional investigations into the continuing abuses. As long as this faux-committee is meeting, the administration can claim to be waiting for its findings.

It won’t find anything.

virgo on August 23, 2013 at 12:02 AM

It’s like sending out Crosby and Stills to investigate Nash…

Political Wrinkles

cnredd on August 23, 2013 at 1:48 AM

Pull together a stacked panel with no power and wait for the pre-ordained message – “These boys are doing a fine job!”

TerryW on August 23, 2013 at 8:14 AM

We have become a banana republic.

Chris of Rights on August 23, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Well Obama did promise transparency (only it’s on your private lives) and he did say it would not be business as usual (boy it’s not) and you know with Obama words matter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8R5GvwUFU8

Chessplayer on August 23, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Cass Sunstein is on this Committee for the sole purpose of keeping Obama apprised of what they’re doing and who is singing to them from within the NSA.

Mahdi on August 23, 2013 at 9:36 PM