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Obama Taps Former Aides for Intel Review Panel

President Barack Obama on Tuesday named the members of a new intelligence review panel aimed at boosting public confidence in U.S. surveillance programs, tapping a group of former White House officials and academics with close current and past ties to his administration.

President Obama
Julie Denesha, Getty Images

Michael Morrell, Obama’s former CIA deputy director, will serve on the panel, the White House said. Morrell temporarily ran the agency after former CIA Director David Petraeus resigned, but was passed over to be his replacement. Morrell stepped down from the CIA on Aug. 9, the same day Obama announced he would create the review panel.

The White House unveiled the new members Tuesday with little fanfare in a statement announcing that Obama had held a meeting with the group. The meeting was not included on Obama’s public schedule.

The idea behind the appointments is for an outside group of experts in national security, privacy and civil liberties to review U.S. surveillance and communications technologies with an eye toward the proper balance between protecting national security and preserving domestic and foreign trust in how the U.S. government operates. It’s one of a series of reforms Obama promised earlier this month to allay concerns over programs exposed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

“It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well,” Obama had said earlier. He subsequently signed a memorandum that entrusted National Intelligence Director James Clapper to establish the panel.

Also on the panel is Cass Sunstein, a former Obama administration official who is married to Obama’s new U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power. Richard Clarke, a former White House cybersecurity adviser during the Clinton administration who campaigned for Obama, is another member. Peter Swire, a professor who worked on privacy issues in the Clinton administration and economic issues early in the Obama administration, will also serve on the panel.

The fifth member is Geoffrey Stone, who taught law with Obama at the University of Chicago. A longtime Obama supporter and self-described informal adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign, Stone later criticized the president for failing to scale back Bush-era policies on government transparency.

After reviewing U.S. policies, the group will brief Obama on its findings within 60 days, the White House said. A final report and recommendations are due in mid-December.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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