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Obama in awkward spot after privacy board calls NSA snooping illegal

Jaikumar Vijayan | Jan. 24, 2014
The bipartisan group also concludes metadata collection is mostly useless.

"Consistent with the recent holdings of the United States District Courts for the Southern District of New York and Southern District of California, as well as the findings of 15 judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on 36 separate occasions over the past seven years, the Administration believes that the program is lawful," a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council said in an emailed statement.

"As the President has said, though, he believes we can and should make changes in the program that will give the American people greater confidence in it."

The spokeswoman noted that the White House would review the new recommendations and "factor it into our thinking on these issues moving forward."

In a statement, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which has called for an end to the metadata program, said the PCLOB's recommendations are encouraging.

"[The] latest report will add to the growing debate after a federal judge and the president's review group also expressed serious misgivings about bulk data collection and other surveillance practices," CCIA president and CEO said in a statement. "These valuable, independent reviews will help as Congress continues to consider how to reform NSA programs and procedures."

The PCLOB's recommendations received a predictable response from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, Government Watchdog Group and others opposed to the metadata program.

"The board's report makes even clearer that the government's surveillance policies, as well as our system of oversight, are in need of far-reaching reform," ACLU legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.


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