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Lawmakers: Obama weighing changes in NSA policy

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is still grappling with key decisions on the future of the National Security Agency's phone collection program and the makeup of the secret court that approved the surveillance, lawmakers said Thursday after a 90-minute meeting at the White House.

Obama is expected to back tighter restrictions on foreign leader spying and also is considering a presidential commission's recommendation to strip the NSA of its ability to store telephone records from millions of Americans. The president could announce his final decisions as early as next week.

"The president and his administration are wrestling with the issues," Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and privacy advocate, said after the meeting. "It's fair to say that the next few weeks are going to be crunch time in terms of judgments being made in both the administration and the Congress."

The president also met this week with his top intelligence advisers, many of whom oppose changes to the NSA programs, and a review group appointed by Congress that is working on a report focused on the surveillance systems. Privacy advocates met with senior White House staff Thursday, and technology companies have been invited to a meeting today.

The president's decisions will test how far he is willing to go in scaling back the NSA's broad surveillance powers. A presidential commission handed him more than 40 recommendations, many more sweeping than expected. However, Obama is not obligated to accept any of the panel's proposals.

Snowden downloaded 1.7 million files

A classified Pentagon report concludes that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden downloaded 1.7 million intelligence files from U.S. agencies in the single largest theft of secrets in U.S. history, according to lawmakers.

The report, they said, asserts that the breach has the potential to put military personnel at risk.

"Snowden's actions are likely to have lethal consequences for our troops in the field," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

Washington Post

Lawmakers: Obama weighing changes in NSA policy 01/09/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 9, 2014 11:27pm]
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