Presidential Review Panel to Submit Draft Recommendations for NSA Spy Program Changes
December 13, 2013 11:39 AM
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NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander defended the NSA's programs as its only way to "connect the dots"
National Security Agency
(NSA) may have to rethink its methods of surveillance as a presidential review panel is set to submit draft proposals on changes within the NSA this weekend.
The Wall Street Journal
, the panel will turn draft recommendations in to the White House this Sunday, which aim to change how the NSA collects and accesses Americans' data such as phone records.
The panel consists of Peter Swire, former Office of Management and Budget privacy director under President Bill Clinton; Michael Morell, Obama's former deputy CIA director; Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism coordinator under Clinton and later for President George W. Bush; Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago, was an informal adviser to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, and Cass Sunstein, Obama's former regulatory czar.
The review panel's recommendations seek to change the NSA's leadership from military to civilian, and limit how the agency collects and holds onto Americans' digital information. In fact, the panel proposed that most phone calls made in the U.S. be held by the phone companies or a third-party organization instead of the NSA.
Further, the panel suggested that stricter standards be put in place regarding the NSA's access to digital data. One particular recommendation sought to end bulk collection of Americans' data, which captured the personal information of American citizens without any evidence of terrorist links first, then filtered later them out later.
NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander disagreed with the suggested limitations of its surveillance programs, saying its the only way the NSA can "connect the dots."
"How do we connect the dots?" said Alexander. "There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots. Taking these programs off the table is absolutely not the thing to do."
Senator John McCain
(R-AZ) said that Alexander should take responsibility for the leaks this year by leaving his position or getting fired.
The NSA has been under the microscope ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the NSA's secret spy programs to the media earlier this year. The agency has said that the bulk data collection was meant to
identify terrorist threats
, but it's been discovered that the data of Americans has been collected without any clear evidence of terrorist links.
In fact, Democratic Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.) filed a brief last week in support of a lawsuit that aims to
end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records
, saying that a more "targeted" form of surveillance would be more effective.
In August, reports said that the NSA admitted to
touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic
. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to
give him their login credentials and passwords
while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the NSA even went as far as spying on citizens through
online gaming networks
like Xbox Live, World of Warcraft and Second Life. These efforts never revealed any terrorist threats, nor was it ever apparent that terrorists used these games to communicate.
Many public tech figures have even spoken out against the NSA's spying methods, including
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckberberg
, who said the NSA "blew it" with the controversial spying, and
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
, who said the NSA's spying on data centers was "outrageous."
The Wall Street Journal
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One more panel will fix everything
12/17/2013 1:54:50 AM
Obama needs a presidential panel just to find his *ss. (And no, I'm not talking about his VP).
I guess we are supposed to believe time-after-time that this president is just a poor, helpless, ignorant, innocent bystander whenever something goes horribly wrong at the highest levels of power.
The real purpose of a panel in situations like this is to:
1) give the false appearance that something is being done,
2) run out the clock until the media finds some other shiny object to distract us with, and
3) provide a mechanism for the president and/or Valerie Jarrett to spread the blame around when the so-called solutions backfire.
The panel also has the added benefit of allowing the blow-hard politicians appointed to the panel to get more precious face-time in front of cameras while they scowl and look serious and/or constipated.
BTW, this is probably all Bush's fault. What a jerk. Now who wants some more free birth control!?!
RE: One more panel will fix everything
12/17/2013 5:26:08 AM
If you think Obama is worse than Bush you're mistaken. They're cut from the same cloth. They work for the same people.
Different faces and different branding on the same agenda.
RE: One more panel will fix everything
12/17/2013 8:20:03 AM
I have news for you...he is worse, and not by just a little bit. But I suppose it all depends on your point of view. But the kinds of abuses of presidential power and top-down corruption and incompetence we're seeing dwarfs anything that has come before.
But if you're feeling guilty about voting for him and it makes you feel better to say Bush was just as bed, please don't let me stand in your way. We all have to find our own ways to cope.
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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