Though President Obama called for an independent probe of American surveillance capabilities after leaks revealed large-scale National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance with minimal oversight, the “independent group” Obama called for is actually staffed by administration insiders with connections to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which oversees the NSA and U.S. spying. Four of the five group members were formerly staffers in Democratic administrations, including an ex-regulatory czar in the Obama administration and a former CIA director.
The oversight group works in offices on loan from the DNI, press relations are managed through the DNI, the group has been granted exemption from rules that require them to meet in a publicly observable fashion, and the final report is to be sent to the White House for approval before public release.
On Monday, a bipartisan group of senators called for a review of the two spy programs in question that monitor telephone calls and Internet usage. The lawmakers, nine members of the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the inspector general of the intelligence community requesting a comprehensive review of spying within the NSA due to concerns over Americans’ privacy.