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Clapper meets with surveillance review group members

Anita Kumar
McClatchy Washington Bureau

Intelligence leaders met with three members of President Barack Obama's advisory group on surveillance as the administration considers what changes to make to the programs.

The purpose of the meeting, which was attended by James Clapper, director of national intelligence, was to discuss the groups' recommendations.

The five-person panel recommended nearly 50 changes to the NSA’s surveillance programs, which have guided intelligence gathering by the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The proposals include an end to the NSA’s storage of Americans’ telephone records, more stringent handling of Americans’ data that is collected incidentally through targeting foreigners, concrete standards for targeting communications of foreign leaders, and the creation of a public interest advocate to represent Americans’ interest in front of the secret court that authorizes the spying programs.

Clapper met with Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire. "The meeting allowed senior IC officials to hear directly from the review group about the goals and objectives of the report’s recommendations and to ask questions about the groups findings," according to his office.

Obama suggested in December that he may make significant changes to the government’s surveillance programs, including the contentious mass collection of phone records. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that Obama will announce changes before his State of the Union address Jan. 28.

Since June, former contractor Edward Snowden has leaked documents showing the National Security Agency has been collecting telephone and email records on tens of millions of Americans and foreigners, eavesdropping on allies such as Germany and Brazil, and spying on a host of global institutions.

Obama could administer some of the recommendations through executive actions, but others would require approval from a divided Congress, where support for NSA changes does not fall strictly along party lines.

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