Survivalist News Network

NSA spying continues while oversight stopped by shutdown

nsa_siA review panel established by the White House to assess the country’s intelligence programs is due to report its findings to the president this Friday. Days before deadline, though, that board has become a voluntary casualty of the government shutdown.

President Barack Obama announced in August that the unauthorized disclosure  of national security documents and the subsequent discussions it  sparked warranted the creation of an independent panel, the  Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.

The Review Group will assess whether, in light of  advancements in communications technologies, the United States  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,” the president said  two months ago.

Practically one week before a 60-day deadline to deliver a report  to the White House, however, the group has put itself on ice.  Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Mike Allen reported over the weekend  that one member of the five-personal panel — former Central  Intelligence Agency director Michael Morell — decided to pull the  plug on the board until the government shutdown that started last  Tuesday morning comes to a close.

I simply thought that it was inappropriate for our group to  continue working while the vast majority of the men and women of  the intelligence community are being forced to remain off the  job,” Morell told Politico on Saturday. “While the work  we’re doing is important, it is no more important than – and  quite frankly a lot less important – than a lot of the work being  left undone by the government shutdown, both in the intelligence  community and outside the intelligence community.”“How could this be more important than kids starting cancer  trials at NIH?”Morell asked the DC-based news outlet,  referring to another government program that was put on hold when  the federal shutdown started last week.

On day two of the shutdown last Wednesday, Director of National  Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers at a Foreign  Intelligence Surveillance Act oversight hearing that he   couldn’t guarantee the safety of the American  people amid the shutdown, as furloughs caused roughly 70 percent  of the US intelligence community’s civilian workforce to be  shuttered until the government is up and running again.

During that same hearing, Clapper said that leaked national  security documents — a whole trove that has steadily been  circulated among the media by former contractor Edward Snowden  starting this past June — has jeopardized the safety of the US as well.

People’s lives are at risk here because of data that Mr.  Snowden purloined,” Clapper said.

But whereas the commander-in-chief created a review panel to see  if the programs publicized by Mr. Snowden should be scaled back,  100 percent of that board is on break while the intelligence  community continues to operate, at least in part. Although  Clapper said that 70 percent of the intelligence community’s  civilian workers were furloughed as of last week, National  Security Agency Director Keith Alexander testified to Congress  that only around 6,000 NSA employees had been sent home.

According to the Washington Post’s estimate, that means only  around 15 percent of the NSA has actually been furloughed,  leaving maybe 30,000 or so employees on the job.

The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies  has until this Friday to provide their interim findings to Pres.  Obama through DNI Clapper, who has been tasked by the White House  to facilitate the panel’s operations. News of Clapper’s alleged  role within the board raised concern last month after it was  reported that the majority of the five-person panel, originally  described by Obama himself as “independent” of the White House, is composed of  former administration officials and/or influential Democrats.

The group’s final report and recommendations —should they finally  convene in time in lieu of the shutdown — is due to the DNI and  White House by December 15.



(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.