Remember When White House Insisted James Clapper Wasn't Overseeing Review Of Surveillance? About That…
from the we'll-just-redefine-"oversee" dept
You may recall that President Obama announced plans for an “independent group” of “outside experts” who would: “consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used [and] ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy.” Except, three days later, it was revealed that the review board would be overseen by confessed liar to Congress James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence. After that got a ton of bad press, the White House hastily insisted that Clapper would not be associated with the group.
Right, so about that. According to the AP, the whole thing is more or less being managed by James Clapper:
… the review panel has effectively been operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA and all other U.S. spy efforts.
The panel’s advisers work in offices on loan from the DNI. Interview requests and press statements from the review panel are carefully coordinated through the DNI’s press office. James Clapper, the intelligence director, exempted the panel from U.S. rules that require federal committees to conduct their business and their meetings in ways the public can observe. Its final report, when it’s issued, will be submitted for White House approval before the public can read it.
Now, Clapper may not technically be on the committee or running it, but since everything is under control of his offices, and they’re working out of his offices, does anyone actually believe they’re even remotely “independent”?
Oh, and remember how President Obama described how this group would focus on making sure the systems couldn’t be abused and rebuilding the trust of the public? Yeah, that’s not actually their mandate (or, if it is, it got shoved way, way down on the priority list). Also, the whole promise of it being “independent” was already seen as a joke once everyone realized they were insiders, but even the official memo setting up the board did away with the claim (stated just days earlier by the President) that this would be an independent board. And the actual focus of the board is not, actually, on what has most people concerned:
The formal White House memorandum days later — effectively the legal charter for the group — does not specify anything about its role being independent of the Obama administration. It directed the panel to emphasize in its review whether U.S. spying programs protect national security, advance foreign policy and are protected against the types of leaks that led to the national debate in the first place. The final consideration in the White House memo told the panel to examine “our need to maintain the public trust.” There was no mention of the panel investigating surveillance abuses.
Basically, this board, which was proposed by the President — or so he told us — as a way to review the efforts and rebuild the trust of the American public, was actually set up to be something entirely different: a propaganda committee effectively overseen by James Clapper to talk up how awesome the surveillance state has become.