U.S. review group to recommend overhaul of NSA operations -report
WASHINGTON Dec 13 (Reuters) - A U.S. presidential task force reviewing National Security Agency intelligence gathering has drafted proposals recommending major changes to the agency and its programs, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The panel's draft proposals call for changing the NSA leadership from military to civilian as well as storing the vast phone call data now collected by the agency with a third-party organization, the Journal said late on Thursday, citing people familiar with the recommendations.
The proposals also recommend stricter standards for searching the data collected by the NSA, the Journal said.
The Obama administration in August set up a special group of outside experts to conduct a formal review of its electronic intelligence gathering, which has come under widespread criticism since leaks by a former NSA contractor.
The group's report is expected Sunday.
The White House is nearing a decision on splitting up the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, which conducts cyber warfare, a proposed reform prompted in part by revelations of NSA's widespread snooping, individuals briefed on the matter told Reuters last month.
As part of the emerging plan, the NSA likely would get a civilian director for the first time in its 61-year history, the individuals said.
President Barack Obama last week said he intended to propose NSA reforms to reassure Americans that the agency was not violating their privacy.
"I'll be proposing some self-restraint on the NSA and to initiate some reforms that can give people more confidence," Obama said in an interview with MSNBC on Dec. 5.
The recommendations from the task force, called the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, are one of several measures unveiled this year by Obama, who has said he had ordered a review of the surveillance programs before ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked secret documents to media.
A steady drip of revelations of NSA spying has raised widespread concern about the reach of the agency's operations and its ability to pry into the affairs of private individuals as well as the communications of foreign leaders. (Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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