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White House to release independent report on NSA spying

Posted:
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Barack Obama ordered review after Edward Snowden leaks
  • Original plan was to release findings in January, but decision was made to do it now
  • Report is part of overall review of U.S. intelligence gathering, White House said
  • The assessment of the NSA is "fairly broad," the White House said

By CNN Staff

An independent assessment of National Security Agency surveillance ordered by President Barack Obama following classified leaks by Edward Snowden will be released Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The review was submitted last week by an outside panel, but Carney said news reports about its recommendations were "inaccurate" so the White House has decided to release the conclusions now rather than in January as previously planned.

The report is part of an overall review of U.S. intelligence gathering that is "a fairly broad assessment," Carney said.

Asked about responding to security threats, Carney said that whatever changes may result from the review process, "we will not harm our ability to face those threats."

"We need to make sure we're not gathering intelligence solely because we can, but because we must," Carney said.

Release of the findings would come two days after a federal judge in Washington ruled preliminarily that NSA data collection of telephone metadata was probably unconstitutional on privacy grounds.

That program was revealed by Snowden, an NSA contractor, last summer, triggering outrage from civil libertarians and some members of Congress, who believe the spy agency has overreached in post-9/11 surveillance efforts.

Most recently, tech giants have pressured Obama to make changes to the federal surveillance programs after the NSA admitted following Snowden leaks that it received secret court approval to collect vast amounts of data from telephone giant Verizon and leading Internet companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

Company executives met with Obama on Tuesday, and sources told CNN's Jake Tapper that those present got the impression from the President that NSA metadata collection would not stop anytime soon but that more efforts at transparency would be made.

Congress broadened the government's ability to conduct anti-terrorism surveillance in the United States and abroad following 9/11, eventually including the metadata collection.

Snowden's explosive revelations about the extent of NSA spying triggered new debate about national security and privacy interests.

The-CNN-Wire
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