Obama Appoints Cass Sunstein to Review NSA Programs

August 26th, 2013

Via: Guardian:

The review of US surveillance programs which Barack Obama promised would be conducted by an “independent” and “outside” panel of experts looks set to consist of four Washington insiders with close ties to the security establishment.

The president announced the creation of the group of experts two weeks ago, in an attempt to stem the rising tide of anger over National Security Agency surveillance techniques disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Obama trumpeted what he said would be a “high-level group of outside experts” tasked with assessing all of the government’s “intelligence and communication technologies”.

However a report by ABC News, which has not been denied by the administration, said the panel would consist of Michael Morell, a recent acting head of the CIA, and three former White House advisers.

The list of apparent panel members prompted criticism among privacy and civil liberty advocates, who said the review would lack credibility and was unlikely to end the controversy over US surveillance capabilities.

In addition to Morell, who was deputy director of the CIA until just three months ago, the panel is believed to consist of former White House officials Richard Clarke, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire.

None responded to requests for comment, however sources close to Sunstein and Swire said they understood them to have been selected. A formal White House announcement is expected soon.

Sunstein, a Harvard law school professor who has been described as an intellectual inspiration for Obama, only left his job as White House’s “regulatory czar” last year.

Sunstein is a particularly controversial appointment. In a paper in 2008, he appeared to propose the US government employing covert agents to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and activist websites that advocate theories that are considered false and conspiratorial.

He has also proposed reformulating the first amendment, arguing that in some instances it goes too far in protecting damaging forms of speech.

Related: Obama Pick for NSA Review Panel Wanted Paid, Pro-Government Shills in Chat Rooms

One Response to “Obama Appoints Cass Sunstein to Review NSA Programs”

  1. Marbles Says:

    So, we got the angsty, disaffected intelligence community critic Richard Clarke playing the Hale Boggs role on a four-man Warren Commission. I’m gonna miss Clarke when he (uh…) “goes to Alaska.”

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