The president is meeting today to discuss possible curbs on the nation’s high-tech intelligence gathering agencies.
The meeting comes one day after President Barack Obama spent at least two hours meeting with American tech-industry moguls, who have complained that the cyberspace surveillance by the National Security Agency makes them look bad.
The controversy began after a NSA contractor, Edward Snowdon, began releasing highly classified data about how the NSA collects data on jihadis, governments and criminals via overseas computers, phones and conversations. Snowden reportedly stole everything worth knowing about the agencies’ activities, and has hidden the data somewhere in cyberspace while he stays in Russia.
The panel, titled the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, submitted a series of recommendation to the President last Friday. This meeting in the Situation Room is closed press.
Obama is slated to give a speech about the new policies in mid-January.
Since the controversy began, Obama has done little to defend the NSA in public, even though numerous national security officials say the agency has provided far more useful and hard-to-get information than any other intelligence agency for several decades.
Obama picked the group’s members, which include Peter Swire, who is an long-time Democratic activist and an advocate for data privacy.
“The review group’s report draws on the group members’ considerable expertise and intelligence, counterterrorism, civil liberties law, and privacy matters, and on consultations with the U.S. government, privacy, and civil liberties advocates in the private sector,” press secretary Jay Carney said Dec. 16.
“Over the next several weeks, we will be reviewing the review group’s report and its more than 40 recommendations as we consider the path forward, including sorting through which recommendations we will implement, which might require further study, and which we will choose not to pursue,” he said.
“We expect the overall internal review to be completed in January… [and] the President will deliver remarks to outline the outcomes of our work, and at that time we will make public the review group’s full report and other conclusions of our work,” he said.