August 14, 2013
After insisting that the government’s unprecedented capability to
monitor communications must be assessed by an independent panel with
regards to maintaining the trust of Americans, President Barack Obama
has announced the formation of a new review group.
A memo issued Monday by the White House said James Clapper, the
United States director of national intelligence, is to form a review
group tasked to determine if the US “employs its technical collection
capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security
and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other
policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and
our need to maintain the public trust.”
However, in a confusing turnabout, the White House said on Tuesday that Clapper is not heading the independent review.
“Director Clapper will not be a part of the group, and is not leading
or directing the group’s efforts,” Caitlin Hayden, a White House
spokeswoman, told The Hill newspaper on Tuesday.
“The White House is selecting the members of the Review Group,
consulting appropriately with the Intelligence Community,” added Hayden.
Comments by the White House seemed to be aimed at distancing the
review from criticism lobbed at Clapper’s influence over the NSA review
process despite the fact that Monday’s memo indicated the report would
come “through the director of national intelligence.