Clapper Won't Be Overseeing Surveillance Review, Though That May Just Be a Small Comfort

A review of the NSA's surveillance managed by the executive branch can't really be called "independent"


Stay out of the henhouse, please. Thanks.
Credit: Medill DC / Foter / CC BY

Apparently, though President Barack Obama sent Director of National Intelligence James Clapper a memo to establish a group to review the National Security Agency's surveillance policies and provide recommendations for reform, this doesn't mean that Clapper will be directly involved or in charge. So the White House is telling The Hill anyway:

"Director Clapper will not be a part of the group, and is not leading or directing the group's efforts," Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman, told The Hill on Tuesday.

"The White House is selecting the members of the Review Group, consulting appropriately with the Intelligence Community," she said, adding that the administration expects to announce the members of the group soon.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, also said that the group will "not be under direction of or led by" Clapper. 

"The members will have access to classified information so they need to be administratively attached to a government element but the review process and findings will be their own," Turner said. 

Privacy activists responded in shock at the idea that Clapper would oversee this process, given that he was caught, at the very least, giving an extremely misleading response to Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) about the extent of the NSA's collection of information about Americans' communications.

But even knowing he's not directly in charge may not ease fears that this group could possibly operate independently, given that the executive branch is putting it together in the first place:

Amie Stepanovich, an attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said she still doubts the group can be independent with Clapper playing a central coordinating role.

"It's just inherently not independent, and it's not likely to solicit any meaningful results," she said.

She noted that Clapper has apologized for stating in a Senate hearing in March that the NSA does not collect any data on millions of people in the United States. The NSA has since acknowledged collected records on virtually all U.S. phone calls.

Clapper said his answer was the "least untruthful" one he could give at the time.

"We have a man who has confessed to lying to Congress, and in doing so, he has publicly exhibited his disdain for the oversight process that he is now coordinating," Stepanovich said.

In case anybody missed it, here's the exchange in question:

NEXT: Euro Zone To See Slow Growth Even After End of Recession, Say Economists

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “It’s just inherently not independent, and it’s not likely to solicit any meaningful results,” she said.

    Isn’t that kind of the point?

    1. my best friend’s sister-in-law makes $76 hourly on the laptop. She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her check was $13035 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this web site.. http://WWW.CNN13.COM

  2. Instead Clappers sock puppet will get the job.

    1. Clap On! Clap Off! Clap on Clap Off, The Clapper.

    2. “Instead Clappers sock puppet will get the job.”

      Prolly more honest than he is.

    3. He can’t, he’s busy being President.

  3. If the deck he stacks happens to find in Clapper’s favor, at least we can say the system worked.

  4. lol, so when does Clapper put on his orange jumpsuit? Right after Snowden does so, right, lol?

    [your ad here]

    1. my ad here:

      [Bush Obama Clapper Alexander Hayden Cheney Clinton Albright Napolitano in orange jump suits. MANNING SNOWDEN FREE.]

  5. “I lied to your face, and then TOLD you I lied to your face. And you did nothing. You impotent, self-important, fat, pasty, diabetic, useless pussies….”

    The Clap, addressing Congress, August, 2013.

    1. Impotent, self-important, fat, pasty, diabetic, useless and pussified is no way to go through life, son

  6. The fact that they tested the waters to see if they could get away with putting Clapper in charge is pretty clear evidence that Obama is not interested in any kind of objective analysis.

    1. I don’t think they were testing the waters.

      I think Obama was laughing in our faces.

      He probably got a push back from Democrats in Congress, who probably reminded him that although he might not give a shit about what the American people want, a lot of Democrats in Congress are trying to get reelected right now. So, they asked if he could keep the laughing in the voters’ faces thingy on the DL until after the midterms, and said they’d really appreciate it, I’m sure.

      1. He was definitely laughing in our faces.

        A real trickster, that Obonzo.

      2. The administration approach to everything is to blatantly violate any semblance of propriety, act completely dishonest and unethical, then feign complete surprise and indignation at any even mild criticism or comment, and act hurt and injured that anyone could even *suspect* anything other than the most-benevolent intentions. because the government “has no intention of spying on americans” and “obamacare is the law of the land”. except the guy who revealed the government is spying on americans is a “traitor” and they have to systematically break the law to keep obamacare from imploding under its own suckitude. But dont worry, thats just because obstructionist rethuglicans keep making scandals out of nothing.

    2. Obama wasn’t testing the waters. He’s just spitting in Congress’ face and daring them to do something about it. Clapper went before the Senate and lied under oath. More importantly, he suffered no repercussions for doing so. In fact, he received a promotion. I would think that the Congresscritters would act, if for no other reason than to protect its reputation against future administrations sending people up to the Hill to lie and prevaricate.

      1. I would think that the Congresscritters would act, if for no other reason than to protect its reputation…?

        I pretty sure Congress doesn’t have a reputation to protect.

  7. Jack Strap said he knows whats going on man.


  8. like Sandra responded I’m shocked that some one can profit $9048 in one month on the internet. did you look at this link Go to site and open Home for details

    1. Like Barack implied, it’s great that you can earn big bucks, a cushy job and a comfortable pension by bugging the shit out of the citizenry, lying your ass off about it, and never being held to account!


  9. Out of curiosity, if Clapper has been so discredited by his lying before Congress that he can’t actually serve on the oversight committee he’s supposed to establish, shouldn’t he, you know, resign or something?

    Isn’t it kind of a conflict of interest for the committee to be investigating *their boss*?

    1. There’s no conflict of interest. Their boss is interested in keeping his job and not facing any consequences, they’re interested in getting a promotion and some days in lieu. The interests couldn’t conflict less.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.