Intell review group back on track after shutdown

The ODNI-led group has briefed the president, and plans a final report by Dec. 15.

James Clapper

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was originally directed to brief President Barack Obama by Oct. 4 on the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology's findings. An ODNI spokesperson said that briefing, while delayed by the government shutdown, has taken place.

A review ordered in August by President Barack Obama to examine U.S. intelligence and surveillance activities remains on track, officials say, despite a delay forced by last month's partial government shutdown.

An interim report from the Director of National Intelligence-led Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, originally ordered to be briefed to the president through DNI James Clapper, was due within 60 days of the group's Aug. 12 establishment. That date, Oct. 4, fell during the shutdown, but a spokesperson from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the briefing has taken place since the government reopened.

"The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology has orally provided their interim report to the White House, with their final report due by Dec. 15," an ODNI spokesperson said. "We expect that the outcomes of their work will be made public in some way once the final report is submitted."

The spokesperson did not say when the interim report was provided to the White House or what it comprised, but did say that the shutdown delayed the review by one week.

The review group, tasked with examining the government's use of technology in collecting intelligence, consists of Richard Clarke, Michael Morell, Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire. With the exception of Stone, all at one point served in government positions. Clarke and Morell previously served in top national security roles.

The review was triggered by revelations, leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden, detailing National Security Agency mass digital surveillance practices, including the bulk collection of phone calls, e-mails and other communications. More than 250 public comments were collected by the group through early October and are posted online.

When the review group was announced, controversy quickly swelled around Clapper, the proposed leader, who oversaw the spy programs and admitted lying to Congress about their existence. In the following days, White House officials backtracked on Clapper's role. Originally said to be establishing and leading the group, Clapper instead would be a "facilitator," White House officials said in August.

ODNI officials did not comment specifically on the group's leadership.

Separately, an independent group is examining other issues surrounding the NSA's bulk data collection programs, and will make recommendations based on extensive research conducted in recent months. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, commissioned by the White House, also is expected to release a report of its own – possibly around the same time as the ODNI's.

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