The high-profile "review group" of experts looking into National Security Agency (NSA) spying practices will deliver its interim report to President Barack Obama two weeks later than expected because of the government shutdown, a senior administration official told Yahoo News on Friday.
"The review group will provide an interim report to the president through the DNI the week of November 11, 2013, and their final recommendations are due to the president by December 15, 2013," the official said on condition of anonymity. "DNI" refers to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
"The group was given 60 days to provide an interim report, which would require them to provide that interim report this week," the official said. "However, because of the government shutdown, which prevented their ability to work on this critical issue, we had to delay the deadline. We still expect the final report to be on time by December 15."
How did the shutdown hamper the report? "As a technical/legal matter, they are administratively supported by ODNI, which was obviously under difficult constraints in the shutdown," the official explained. "As a practical matter, almost everyone they would be talking to in government was also under shutdown constraints."
Obama had announced plans to create the special review group at an Aug. 9 press conference. It had 60 days from its official Aug. 27 formation date to provide the interim report.
“We’re forming a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies,” the president said at the press conference.
“I am tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities ― particularly our surveillance technologies,” Obama said. “And they’ll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy ― particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public."