A hand-picked White House-sponsored panel is due to submit recommendations to the Obama administration this weekend as part of efforts to ensure the continuation of the illegal National Security Agency (NSA) spying programs.
Leaks to the media on Friday make clear that the panel, headed by a former CIA deputy director, is a whitewash and that the administration is planning purely cosmetic changes. The five-member panel, established in the aftermath of the initial revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, was set up to divert and dissipate popular outrage with a pretense of reform, while institutionalizing the spying programs.
The 150-page report, which may be released publicly later this month, apparently focuses on only one of the many domestic spying programs revealed by Snowden—the bulk collection of telephone records obtained with the cooperation of major telecommunication companies. The panel concludes that this program is legal and must continue. It also endorses the monitoring of foreign communications.
“The big picture is there’s not going to be that much constraint,” the Washington Post quoted one US official as saying. “They’re really not hurting [the NSA] that much.”