Thursday, August 15, 2013

White House denies DNI Clapper will head ‘independent’ NSA review group

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.

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