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House members don't want Clapper handling NSA reforms

Jan. 27, 2014 at 6:06 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Monday they don't want intelligence chief James Clapper overseeing reform of the nation's surveillance programs.

"The continued role of James Clapper as director of national intelligence is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs and ensuring the highest level of transparency," six lawmakers wrote in a letter to President Obama.

"Asking Director Clapper, and other federal intelligence officials who misrepresented programs to Congress and the courts, to report to you on needed reforms and the future role of government surveillance is not a credible solution."

President Obama recently outlined his vision for reforming the National Security Agency and suggested limits on its reach into Americans' personal phone data. Obama gave Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder the task of coming up with further reforms.

Clapper has come under scrutiny since he denied under oath last year the NSA spied on millions of Americans.

The six House members who signed the letter are Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Reps. Ted Poe, R-Texas, Paul Broun, R-Ga., Doug Collins, R-Ga., Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Alan Grayson, D-Fla.

They faulted Obama for providing reform directions that "fall short" of what's necessary to provide "immediate and effective safeguards" to reform the NSA, the Hill reported.

"We cannot effectively guard our constitutional liberties and operate our national security programs with unresolved administrative questions," they wrote. "Additional layers of bureaucracy and reporting directives cannot act as a substitute for concrete reforms and overdue transparency."

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