NSA panel recommends sweeping changes to surveillance program

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 18, 2013 

NSA Surveillance Thwarted Attacks

The National Security Agency (NSA) building at Fort Meade, Md.

CHARLES DHARAPAK — AP

A group appointed by President Barack Obama to review U.S. surveillance tactics is recommending widespread changes to National Security Agency programs, including ending the government storage of millions of Americans' telephone records. 

Instead, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies is recommending that such data be held privately for the government to obtain "when necessary for national security purposes." The full report and its 46 recommendations can be found here.

The authors of the report -- who met today at the White House with Obama -- said the changes would protect privacy and civil liberties without undermining national security.

“We’re not saying that the struggle against terrorism is over or that is has declined to such an extent that we can dismantle the mechanisms that we have put in place to safeguard the country," said Richard Clarke, former national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection, and counter-terrorism and served as a counter-terrorism and security adviser in the administrations of presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. "What we are saying is those mechanisms can be more transparent, and that they can have more independent outside oversight, and judicial oversight."

He said more protection for civil liberties would give "the public a sense of trust that goes beyond what it has today.”

Obama, who met today with Clarke and the other members of the panel, said he'll work with his national security team to study the report, and determine which recommendations to accept.

Obama is expected to announce his decisions in January and the White House said it wouldn't comment on the group's proposals while its internal review is underway.

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