AP: NSA review panel looks like “an arm of” DNI

posted at 2:01 pm on September 23, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

What did the Associated Press expect with the Obama administration’s latest “hey, we’ll investigate ourselves” project? The AP is shocked, shocked to find that the supposedly independent review of the NSA’s practices has started to look a lot like an operation run by its parent organization:

Stung by public unease about new details of spying by the National Security Agency, President Barack Obama selected a panel of advisers he described as independent experts to scrutinize the NSA’s surveillance programs to be sure they weren’t violating civil liberties and to restore Americans’ trust.

But with just weeks remaining before its first deadline to report back to the White House, the review panel has effectively been operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA and all other U.S. spy efforts.

The panel’s advisers work in offices on loan from the DNI. Interview requests and press statements from the review panel are carefully coordinated through the DNI’s press office. James Clapper, the intelligence director, exempted the panel from U.S. rules that require federal committees to conduct their business and their meetings in ways the public can observe. Its final report, when it’s issued, will be submitted for White House approval before the public can read it.

Even the panel’s official name suggests it’s run by Clapper’s office: “Director of National Intelligence Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.”

That would be the same James Clapper who misled Congress on the nature of the NSA’s activities, and then later claimed to have been as transparent as possible.  Ron Wyden had actually given Clapper a full day’s notice on the question, but rather than ask for a classified briefing, offered a false denial instead.  Now he’s basically running the investigation into himself, but we knew that already.  The AP is just catching up.

The stakeholders in the debate, at least those outside of the government, have hardly been impressed with its independence or transparency.  Even when discussing unclassified matters, the meetings with technology providers have remained closed and exclusive:

Its meetings in recent weeks with technology industry and privacy groups have been closed to the public even though no classified information was discussed, according to participants. Attendees told The Associated Press they raised concerns about the NSA’s spying programs. During one session, two participants said, panel members said the group might hold a separate classified meeting soon with technology executives to discuss details of secret surveillance programs.

In neither of the two sessions has the panel given any indication that they have changes to recommend to the ODNI.  When participants raised the key issues to the panel, they gave one of two responses, according to Sascha Meinrath of the Open Technology Institute: “we were told to put that into record on the website, or else we were told it was classified.”

As I noted last month when the White House announced that the DoJ would probe the DEA’s use of massive telecom records, this follows a very familiar pattern:

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  Allegations arise of abuses of power and wrongdoing in a subordinate agency of a Cabinet department, which then conducts an investigation that lays the blame on a few low-level staffers and then insists that any further debate on the issue is nothing more than a “phony scandal.” The State Department did that with Benghazi, Treasury (or at least the White House’s spin on the IG report) with the IRS, and the Department of Justice with Operation Fast and Furious. The DoJ will now take a second spin on the Wheel Of Scapegoats by launching its own investigation into the DEA’s alleged widespread spying[.]

Again, most of us understood that this would be another Benghazi-ARB-style whitewash from the beginning.  The AP gets a Captain Louis Renault award for its sudden shock at the obvious:


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Comments

Fox was not involved in the disappearance of all those hens.

signed, Fox’s mother.

rbj on September 23, 2013 at 2:07 PM

President Barack Obama selected a panel of advisers he described as independent experts to scrutinize the NSA’s surveillance programs to be sure they weren’t violating civil liberties and to restore Americans’ trust.

Hahahahahaha!!!!!!

King Barry really is a comedian!

But who can blame him? Wasn’t that Benghazi investigation whitewash at the State Department successful?

How about “Fast and Furious”?

GarandFan on September 23, 2013 at 2:08 PM

The stench from Washington DC is choking the nation as a whole. Shut down the government, let it burn and start over.

Deano1952 on September 23, 2013 at 2:09 PM

I can see the release of the results now……. We looked at the situation and, trust us, we aren’t doing anything wrong. Never have and never would.

Happy Nomad on September 23, 2013 at 2:09 PM

This has got to be a new low for, even this Administration….next to Benghazi!

tomshup on September 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

This has got to be a new low for, even this Administration….next to Benghazi!

tomshup on September 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

I think next up is Lois Lerner’s investigation of the IRS targeting conservative groups.

Happy Nomad on September 23, 2013 at 2:14 PM

If Bush had done this…

Entry # 4,238,293,622

mankai on September 23, 2013 at 2:14 PM

al Qaeda’s report on the Syrian rebels has just come in to Sen. McCain’s office as well:

Bunch o’ swell guys. So… when can we, er, they get those arms?

mankai on September 23, 2013 at 2:18 PM

If Bush had done this…

Entry # 4,238,293,622

mankai on September 23, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Isn’t it time to go to some sort of an exponential tracking system or at least code it down by subject area.

Happy Nomad on September 23, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Isn’t it time to go to some sort of an exponential tracking system or at least code it down by subject area.

Happy Nomad on September 23, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Nah, remember all the fear wrought by Y2k?

socalcon on September 23, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Fox was not involved in the disappearance of all those hens.

signed, Fox’s mother.

rbj on September 23, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Nailed it.

44Magnum on September 23, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Fox was not involved in the disappearance of all those hens.

signed, Fox’s mother.

rbj on September 23, 2013 at 2:07 PM

.
Nailed it.

44Magnum on September 23, 2013 at 2:32 PM

.
Yep, dittos.

listens2glenn on September 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

If Bush had done this…

Entry # 4,238,293,622

mankai on September 23, 2013 at 2:14 PM

The punishment for which would have been added to the 50 years he would have already been serving by now, 2 years after his impeachment.

hawkeye54 on September 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Fox was not involved in the disappearance of all those hens.

signed, Fox’s mother.

rbj on September 23, 2013 at 2:07 PM

.
Nailed it.

44Magnum on September 23, 2013 at 2:32 PM

.
Yep, dittos.

listens2glenn on September 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Indeed.

hawkeye54 on September 23, 2013 at 2:37 PM

What’s been broken here…

… will not be easily fixed.

Seven Percent Solution on September 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Dude. When I suggested Clapper’s involvement in the panel, I was kidding.

besser tot als rot on September 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

So, if they have an election and no one shows up…does that mean that government is not relevant and we can shut it down. Wait, ACORN will show up – never mind…

rgranger on September 23, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Wow, who could have seen this coming?

Chris of Rights on September 23, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Fox was not involved in the disappearance of all those hens.

signed, Fox’s mother.

rbj on September 23, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Heh. +10 for a Kotter reference.

AJsDaddie on September 25, 2013 at 8:39 AM