Intelligence Panel Recommends Limits On NSA Surveillance
by: Scott Neuman, NPR, December 18, 2013 3:12:00 pm
A panel looking into U.S. electronic surveillance activities in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations has recommended removing the NSA's authority to store Americans' telephone data.
The key recommendation was one of dozens that the panel put forward; however, it did not propose a wholesale scaling back of domestic spying by the National Security Agency and other intelligence branches.
The Associated Press says: "It was not immediately clear whether the proposed changes would limit the scope of the collections." The New York Times says the recommendations, if adopted, would "end the government's systematic collection of logs of all Americans' phone calls, and [keep] those in private hands, 'for queries and data mining' only by court order."
Reuters says the report also recommended:
"[New] criteria that should be met before the United States engages in surveillance of foreign leaders."
Before spying on such leaders, U.S. officials should determine if there are other ways to obtain the necessary information and weigh the negative effects if the surveillance becomes public, panel members wrote in one of 46 recommendations."
Taken together, the Times says, "the recommendations would remove from the N.S.A.'s hands the authority to conduct many of its operations without review by the president, Congress or the courts. But by themselves, they would terminate few programs."
President Obama ordered the review board after a series of exposes in British and U.S. newspapers detailing leaks by former NSA contractor Snowden, who fled the U.S. and is now living in temporary asylum in Russia. He is not obligated to accept their proposals.
The White House said Wednesday that the president had met with the panel:
"This meeting offered President Obama an opportunity to hear directly from the group's members and discuss the thinking behind the 46 recommendations in their report. The President noted that the group's report represented a consensus view, particularly significant given the broad scope of the members' expertise in counterterrorism, intelligence, oversight, privacy and civil liberties. The President again stated his expectation that, in light of new technologies, the United States use its intelligence collection capabilities in a way that optimally protects our national security while supporting our foreign policy, respecting privacy and civil liberties, maintaining the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure."