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Obama meets new five-member panel reviewing surveillance programs

President Barack Obama met on Tuesday with a five-member panel he appointed to review the privacy issues involved with U.S. government surveillance programs, the White House said, part of an effort to rebuild public trust after leaks by a former spy agency contractor.

Obama has faced criticism since Edward Snowden, a contractor for the National Security Agency, exposed classified information about U.S. surveillance of telephone calls and emails to journalists, raising concerns about privacy and civil liberties.

The review panel is part of an effort to expand oversight of the programs, which Obama has defended as necessary to protect national security.

Its members are Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser in the Clinton and Bush White Houses; Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA; Peter Swire, who worked on technology issues in the Obama and Clinton administrations; Geoffrey Stone, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago, where Obama worked before entering politics; and Cass Sunstein, Obama's former regulatory czar who is married to Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The group will present interim findings in 60 days to the director of national intelligence, the White House said. They are expected to give a final report and recommendations to Obama by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, Obama also said he would work with Congress to reform laws that govern the collection of phone records and add scrutiny to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

He also said he wanted to provide more information to the public about the surveillance programs to restore trust.

[Source: By Roberta Rampton, Reuters, Washington, 27Aug13]

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Privacy and counterintelligence
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