Reported participants in NSA surveillance review panel spell likely failure from the beginning
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
If ABC News is right about the individuals participating in the group slated to review the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs, the group is likely to be a complete and total failure.
That is, of course, if you expect it to actually be an independent, critical review body or anything resembling it. However, many readers likely have no such expectation given the fact that it was established by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who admitted that he lied to Congress about the NSA programs.
The group will reportedly include Michael Morell, Richard Clarke, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire, according to ABC News.
Morell served most recently as acting head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) until March when John Brennan was sworn in as director of the agency.
Morell has worked in a variety of senior positions at the CIA since 1980 and was serving as intelligence briefer to President George W. Bush on September 11, 2001.
It’s hard to imagine that Morell, a long-time CIA veteran, would be impartial when reviewing the surveillance programs of the NSA.
In June, Morell resigned, saying he just wanted to spend more time with his family. The timing was interesting, to say the least, because it came on the heels of the NSA leaks and various other Obama administration scandals.
Clarke is a former State Department official under Reagan, former chair of the Counter-terrorism Security Group under George H.W. Bush, former lead counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council under Clinton and former adviser on cybersecurity for George W. Bush.
Clarke appears to be a reason to hope that there might be at least some independent, critical analysis in the group.
He has notably publicized the fact that the U.S. government is putting Americans at risk in their quest for offensive cyberwarfare capabilities.
He also pointed out in his book Against All Enemies that the intelligence community always understood after September 11, 2001 that there was no link between Iraq and al Qaeda, despite claims made by Bush administration officials.
While some might see hope in Clarke’s presence, one must evaluate the rest of the participants.
Sunstein served as the administrator of the Obama administration’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a position which is better known as the “regulatory czar.”
Sunstein is perhaps best known among certain circles for his work on the 2008 paper, “Conspiracy Theories,” with Adrian Vermeule.
The paper claimed that, “The existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories, we suggest, is no trivial matter, posing real risks to the government’s antiterrorism policies, whatever the latter may be.”
Sunstein and Vermeule contend that, “the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups.”
Among other tactics, the two write that “Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.”
In the paper they also refer to groups contending that the U.S. government was either responsible for or complicit in the September 11, 2001 attacks as “extremist groups.”
Most notably, however, Sunstein and Vermeule wrote, “We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories.”
Sunstein also would likely disappoint many libertarian-minded readers with his claims that money isn’t really “ours” and that, “Without taxes, there would be no liberty.”
Given Sunstein’s past approach to those who criticize the government in one way or another, it’s hard to imagine that he will be able to bring any truly independent, critical approach to the evaluation of NSA surveillance.
Swire served as Chief Counselor for Privacy in the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration and is co-chair of the group attempting to mediate a global Do Not Track technology.
While Swire has been an advocate of privacy, he can hardly be considered independent given that he worked for the Obama administration in the National Economic Council in 2009 and 2010 as Special Assistant to President Obama for Economic Policy.
Swire is also a privacy fellow at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a group which was created with seed money from AT&T, Bell Atlantic, Nynex, Apple Computer and Microsoft
The Center for Democracy and Technology receives around 1/3 of its funding from foundations and a great deal from corporations ranging from AOL to Amazon to Intel to Adobe and more.
Suffice it to say, Swire is hardly an independent critic.
Keeping all of the above in mind, it’s hard to argue that the above will be a truly independent, critical review group. Indeed, it seems to be the exact opposite.
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