After public backlash regarding the NSA’s surveillance program, President Obama promised months ago that he would select an independent review panel to make sure that the NSA wasn’t violating American’s right to privacy.
Now, the Associated Press reports that the panel has been chosen and is reviewing the situation, but the panel allegedly consists of mostly NSA insiders.
Reports show that the panel itself is working in offices provided by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and that intelligence director James Clapper actually allowed the panel to meet in private, rather than in a public setting, as required by federal law. The DNI actually oversees the NSA, so essentially, the panel that is reviewing the NSA is working as an arm of the DNI.
Furthermore, the Press suggests that the panel’s report will first be submitted to the White House for approval before it is released to the public. Many feel that this all goes against the President’s promise of an independent panel review, and some are not happy.
Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute, is one of those people. Meinrath claims that the private meetings are leaving the “public out of the loop.”
“No one can look at this group and say it’s completely independent,” said Meinrath, who was actually an attendee at one of the meetings with the panel as a representative of the tech industry.
In a speech this past August, President Obama said that the panel would be independent, adding that the members 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.”
Now, the President is under fire for the panel member choices as many say that a panel of NSA insiders will not be able to objectively review the charges against the organization.