The Maneuvers to Get Ahead of the NSA Review Group Recommendations

Here’s a quick summary of all the events happening in response to the NSA Review Group report:

Tuesday, January 7: James Clapper “and other Intelligence Community Leaders” meet with Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein, and Peter Swire; SSCI holds closed briefing with Review Group

Wednesday, January 8: Obama meets with Intelligence Community leaders; Obama meets with PCLOB; NatSec Aides and Congressional staffers meet in Situation Room

Thursday, January 9: Obama meets with (reportedly invited) Dianne Feinstein, Saxby Chambliss, Mike Rogers, Dutch Ruppersberger, Pat Leahy, Chuck Grassley, Bob Goodlatte, John Conyers, Ron Wyden, Mark Udall, and Jim Sensenbrenner

Tuesday, January 14: Review Group testifies publicly before Senate Judiciary Committee

PCLOB, which I believe has a better understanding of the dragnet than several members of the Review Group, was supposed to present its own recommendations sometime this month, and the White House claims to be conducting its own internal review which is finishing up work.

I raise this schedule to point to the several times when Obama will meet with advocates for reform in a venue where some horse-trading can go on. Not only will he meet with PCLOB before their recommendations come out (as he met with the Review Group), but he will have the sponsors of legislation that would reform NSA and FBI’s counterterrorism programs, as well as Wyden and Udall, in a room with a larger number of opponents of reform.

Jay Carney said today Obama will introduce his own “reforms” before the State of the Union on January 28. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama moved to pre-empt these other discussions even earlier than that, as he did with the Review Group suggestion that the Director of the NSA position be split from the Cybercommand position.

Will he try to get an agreement from the legislative critics to withdraw their legislation if he makes some changes as executive prerogative?

8 replies
  1. der says:

    If they believe anything that comes out of his or his administrations mouth other than hello and goodbye they are gullible dupes. Greenwald/Poitras/Gellman need to publish some new stuff.

  2. Peterr says:

    Will he try to get an agreement from the legislative critics to withdraw their legislation if he makes some changes as executive prerogative?

    Absolutely. That’s his SOP.

    Somehow, I don’t see Wyden and Leahy being all that anxious to go along with it, however.

  3. emptywheel says:

    @Peterr: I think Wyden and Udall will resist. But Leahy falls for it EVERY TIME there’s legislation before his committee. Plus, I’m not actually sure the forces of good have the votes there, as Jeff Flake has gotten remarkably authoritarian now that he’s a big Senator.

  4. C says:

    @emptywheel: The problem with this strategy this time is that the very essence of this problem is executive perogative. It is one thing to fix the drone strikes which, after all, don’t kill Americans. It is quite another for Obama to promise to behave in secret given that we now know that he and bush have been behaving so very badly to everyone in private including the very court that is supposed to hold him accountable.

    Congress is, quite simply, impotent on national security issues. Some of them such as Feinstein may be fine with that but a growing number of them seem to be bothered by it and the base of both parties and most independents are positively offended by it. Obama may not have to run again but congress does and for many of them “embrace our impotence” is not a winning campaign strategy.

    I agree with you that he will try to keep this under his coat but I just don’t see that passing quietly. Then again congress has failed before…

  5. valley girl says:

    I admit I had to google PCLOB. Probably I haven’t been keeping up, but this was a new one on me. I found the website:

    Anyone have any insight about this board or it’s members? I’m presently poking through the site.

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