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White House releases NSA report early

A presidential panel recommended a slew of changes to NSA practices.

By Gabrielle Levy
White House releases NSA report early
James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, looks on as General Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency, testifies during a House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Potential Changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on October 29, 2013. UPI/Pete Marovich | License Photo

A White House panel on the surveillance activities of the National Security Administration has recommended the NSA halt its systematic collection of phone calls.

The White House released the 308-page report, submitted to President Barack Obama last week, as the president met with members of the panel at the White House Wednesday to discuss its 46 recommendations.

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The panel, which included Reagan-era State Department expert Richard Clarke, former acting CIA director Michael Morrell and scholars Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire, urged the NSA to move its database of phone calls into private hands "for queries and data mining" by court order only.

Among the recommendations was the suggestion that the decisions to surveil foreign leaders be left to the president and his advisors and tighten restrictions on targeting ordinary foreign citizens.

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The report urged the NSA to halt its efforts to create workarounds to break the encryption standards that protect confidential communications.

"What we’re saying is just because we can doesn’t mean we should,” Clarke said.

While implementing some of the recommendations are under the purview of the president, others require Congressional legislation. The White House made no indication Wednesday which of the recommendations it would take up.

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