White House Says Intelligence Director Will Not Lead NSA Review Group

Despite some initial freakout, the White House is out to quell rumors that embattled Director Of National Intelligence, James Clapper, will direct a new independent review group of the National Security Agency. “Director Clapper will not be a part of the group, and is not leading or directing the group’s efforts,” a White House spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, told The Hill.

After President Obama’s announcement of a new agency to review mass surveillance procedures, he sent out an obligatory note to Clapper, “by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I am directing you to establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (Review Group).” [PDF]

A number of tech blogs were up in arms, running stories with titles like, “President Obama orders intelligence chief accused of lying to Congress to lead NSA review.”

Clapper has come under criticism after denying in congressional testimony that his agencies were collecting records on millions of Americans (they, in fact, are). So, he would be a terribly biased leader if he were in charge of the review group.

But, it takes a pretty liberal reading of a rather perfunctory note to assume that Obama had already failed on his promise of transparency. In truth, we know nothing about the commission, its participants, or the authority it will have. It did, at the very least, produce some funny tweets.