White House Changing Its Story On James Clapper's Role In Independent Surveillance Review

from the straight-answers,-please dept

Right, so yesterday, President Obama sent a letter to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence (DNI), who is a confessed liar to Congress in his attempts to protect the surveillance program from public scrutiny. In that letter, President Obama directed Clapper to "establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies." This was the fulfillment of Obama's promise to set up an "independent group" of "outside experts" to review the surveillance efforts.

As you might imagine, many people found this somewhat ridiculous -- beyond having a fox guard the henhouse, this was asking the fox to set up the group to look into what happened to all those missing chickens. It was just laughable. Today, however, the White House is claiming... something. They're saying that Clapper isn't setting up the group or leading it:
"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 on Tuesday.

"The White House is selecting the members of the Review Group, consulting appropriately with the Intelligence Community," she said, adding that the administration expects to announce the members of the group soon.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, also said that the group will "not be under direction of or led by" Clapper.
It seems like, as with absolutely everything in this discussion, Clapper and the administration are choosing their words very, very, very carefully. Here they're saying that he won't be "leading" the group or "directing" the group. But no one has argued that. They're saying -- as the White House did -- that he's in charge of setting up the group. Now, the White House seems to be suggesting that "establishing" the group is different from "selecting the members," which is possible if the process for "establishing" the group is James Clapper holding out his hands and saying, "poof, this group has been established" and then someone else picks the members.

Also, while Clapper may not be a "member" of the group and won't "lead" it, the group is clearly reporting to Clapper. From President Obama's letter:
the Review Group will brief their interim findings to me through the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Review Group will provide a final report and recommendations to me through the DNI no later than December 15, 2013.
So, yes, Clapper isn't leading the day-to-day review by the group, but its report is going straight to him, which makes it anything but independent.

Honestly, this kind of doubletalk is the exact kind of thing that's pissing so many people off about this. If President Obama's goal here was to rebuild trust, telling Clapper to "establish" this group and to have the group report to Clapper... and then, a day later, having the White House carefully choose their language to pretend that Clapper is separate from the group is not the way to do it. Involving Clapper in the first place was a mistake. Actually, having Clapper still on the job after his admitted lying to Congress was a big mistake. Dancing around the fact that he's involved is just making the administration look worse and worse.

Filed Under: barack obama, independent review, james clapper, nsa, nsa surveillance


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Aug 2013 @ 5:05pm

    Zero credibility. That pretty much sums up this travesty.

    Also, I recently installed TextSecure on my cell phone. It's an encrypts text messages.

    I got an unpleasant surprise text message from the NSA. The message came from my friend's phone number.

    I was standing right next to my friend in the same room. We were trying to exchange TextSecure keys, but the keys were not matching up. Someone was man-in-the-middling us. Then shortly after the failed key exchange, came the fake NSA message from my friend's phone number.

    It was absolutely crazy, because he didn't send the message. I was right there looking at his phone.

    I use AT&T for a cell service provider.

    Then, to make matters even crazier I open up my web browser on my phone and instead of my regular homepage coming up, it's a website appearing to be from AT&T asking me to click on a link to update my web browser.

    Why would a browser update be coming from a web page? Wouldn't that come in as a Google Play Store app update?

    I think I clicked on the decline button like a dumb ass, so now my phone probably has NSA spyware on it so they can see my encrypted text messages.

    It's probably some kind of malware made by FinFisher and sold to the Government.

    So beware, if you install encryption software on your cell phone, the NSA will start messing with you and attempt to install malware on your phone.

    I'm a law-abiden citizen with no criminal record, so don't believe the bullshit about the NSA no looking at the content of domestic communication messages.

    I swear everything I said is true. The FinFisher stuff is just and assumption of mine. The part about getting a message from my friend's phone number that he never send, and the man-in-the-middle key exchange attack, is 100% true.

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