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National security experts urge Obama to keep key NSA capabilities

National Security Agency (NSA)
National Security Agency (NSA)

On Wednesday, the Center for Security Policy announced to the media and the Paulding County Republican Examiner that a planned release of an open letter to President Obama urging that critical intelligence collection capabilities of NSA be preserved and not be compromised any further.

The release will take place tomorrow, January 16, 2014 at 2p.m. at the Bloomberg Room, National Press Club in Washington, DC.

On the eve of the unveiling by President Obama’s changes to U.S. intelligence policy and practice, former Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on intelligence and a former National Counterintelligence Executive joined other intelligence and national security practitioners will be submitting an open letter to President Obama.

The letter will be arguing that the world is too dangerous for American intelligence capabilities to be substantially reduced, due to the damage cause by Edward Snowden’s treachery, but that key National Security Agency (NSA) capabilities must remain intact.

The Center for Security Policy said, “It will make clear six principles that should guide U.S. intelligence collection, while preserving Americans’ constitutionally protected privacy rights. It will also offer several specific recommendations for how such principles should be applied at this juncture.”

The letter follows the release earlier this week of a study by Center for Security Policy Senior Fellows Fred Fleitz and Clare Lopez, both of whom were career CIA Officers with extensive experience in the fields of intelligence collection and analysis.

The study is entitled “A Critique of the Recommendations by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies”.

Mr. Fleitz and Ms. Lopez conclude that most of the Review Group’s recommendations for adjustments to NSA intelligence-gathering protocols would be highly detrimental to national security.

Several of the signatories of the open letter will be present to discuss its contents, the Center’s new study and the sorts of changes Mr. Obama is expected to announce on Friday, January 17, 2013.

Those signatories include the Hon. Pete Hoekstra who is the former Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Frank J. Gaffney Jr., former Assistant Secretary of Defense (Acting) and President, Center for Security Policy.

Other signatories include Fred Fleitz who is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and who also served in U.S. national security positions for 25 years with the CIA, the DIA, Department of State and the House Intelligence Committee staff. Moreover, Clare Lopez, Senior Fellow, Center for Security Policy where her expertise is strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on national defense, Islam, Iran, and counter-terrorism issues.

Mr. Fred Fleitz and Ms. Clare Lopez wrote a 14-page report critique of the "Recommendations by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies" on January 13, 2014.

In the report, it stated that last August President Barack Obama named a panel, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies that was in response to the national debate that followed the illegal disclosure of classified documents by former NSA technician Edward Snowden, and Snowden’s misrepresentations about NSA intelligence practices.

"The most troubling rationale offered by the Obama Review Group for these and other recommendations
is to recommend dramatic changes because the potential for abuse “can significantly undermine
public trust.” That reasoning can be applied to any intelligence program, and indeed to any law
enforcement activity: the police officer could beat an innocent citizen with his nightstick, or
shoot such a citizen with his pistol; that is not an argument in favor of confiscating police
nightsticks or pistols."

"Indeed, the Review Group concedes, even as it fails to appreciate, that “the degree of oversight and control by high-level officials, legislative members and the judiciary” makes U.S. intelligence collection “unique.”

The Obama Review Group issued a report with recommended reforms on intelligence, technology, and privacy issues on December 12, 2013. That report can be obtained here.

Fleitz and Lopez said of Obama’s panel review group, “The Center for Security Policy (CSP) disagrees with most of the Review Group’s recommendations and believes many would undermine U.S national security.”

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