Newly Enacted Surveillance Program Goes Belly-Up

Monday, 07 Oct 2013 06:54 PM

By Amy Woods

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Government furloughs, the unfortunate fallout of failed congressional budget talks, have affected a surveillance panel assembled this summer by President Barack Obama.

Michael Morell, one of five members of the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, said the panel should not convene because much of the federal workforce no longer is receiving a paycheck.

Although the unpaid members met without Morrell on Oct. 2, the funds for them to travel to Washington remain frozen.

"I simply thought that it was inappropriate for our group to continue working while the vast majority of the men and women of the intelligence community are being forced to remain off the job," Morell told Politico.

"While the work we're doing is important, it is no more important than — and quite frankly a lot less important — than a lot of the work being left undone by the government shutdown, both in the intelligence community and outside the intelligence community."

Obama initiated the panel to investigate and assess surveillance software used by the government in the wake of the Edward Snowden leak case.

An additional panel set up in the same vein — the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board — also is in a state of hiatus as a direct result of the lapse in appropriations.

Morell told Politico he made the decision to step down from the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies so as not to interfere with what should be Congress' top priority: reopening the government.

"How could this be more important than kids starting cancer trials at NIH?" Morell asked.

"I just firmly felt Congress should be focused on one thing and one thing only, which is ending the shutdown."

Related story:

Zichal to step down as Obama’s chief energy and climate adviser

 



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