WASHINGTON – The White House will release a review Wednesday calling for reforms in National Security Agency spying sweeps, exposed by Edward Snowden, which have angered US allies and raised legal and privacy concerns.
President Barack Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney said the report by a review panel was being released earlier than a planned date in January due to incomplete and inaccurate media reporting about its contents.
Obama met members of the review panel earlier on Wednesday to work through the 46 recommendations in the report.
“While we had intended to release the review group’s full report in January … given the inaccurate and incomplete reports in the press about the report’s content, we felt it was important to allow people to see the full report to draw their own conclusions,” Carney said.
“For that reason, we will be doing that this afternoon — releasing the full report.”
Obama commissioned the review panel report earlier this year in the wake of explosive revelations by fugitive intelligence contractor Snowden on the stunning scope of the NSA’s operations.
He has said he wants to strike a balance between keeping Americans safe from terrorist threats and safeguarding privacy rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.
The review board comprises former White House counter-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke; Michael Morell, the ex-deputy director of the CIA; Peter Swire, an official specializing in privacy and technology issues; constitutional law professor Geoffrey Stone; and Cass Sunstein, a former regulatory official in the Obama administration.
The president has said he would try to get the shady spy agency to restrain its Internet and phone data collection operations but is expected to allow them to continue in some form.
Obama is due to consider which of the recommendations he will accept and will then make a speech to the American people in January.
The release of the report comes with intense pressure building on the administration over the programs, from political opponents, the Internet industry and even the courts.
A federal judge in Washington this week ruled that NSA programs, which have scooped up millions of details on telephone calls and Internet traffic on Americans and foreigners, were probably unconstitutional.
The ruling opened a long legal battle which is likely to end up in the Supreme Court.