When the White House task force’s independent report was released this week, expectations were that it would contain mostly cosmetic recommendations. However, combing through the 300 page document reveals shockingly specific, detailed suggestions for reform which seem to be addressing known, or suspected, NSA activities.

Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation found a specific recommendation buried in the report which could spell the NSA’s doom if it’s revealed that this recommendation is responding to actual activities by the intelligence agency.

Here is recommendation 31(2), as presented by techdirt:


Glenn Greenwald and others have warned that the worst Snowden revelations about the NSA are yet to come. If indeed we learn that the NSA has been manipulating international financial systems, whether of individual countries or world systems – or even that is has been manipulating markets here in the U.S. – the NSA as it currently exists will not survive.

While the United States engaging in cyber attacks against foreign entities is nothing new, we have no reports of the NSA manipulating financial systems or “changing the amounts held in financial accounts” in the U.S. or abroad. However, this recommendation, so specific in nature and ominous in tone, suggests that it may have been made after something tangible which surfaced during the task force’s review.

If indeed the NSA has engaged in such manipulations, we are going to learn about it, likely sooner rather than later, now that this report has been released. And if we learn that this recommendation was reactive, rather than proactive, the Obama administration will have no choice but to undertake a massive overhaul of the NSA.

If the courts haven’t already compelled the White House to do so first based on Fourth Amendment constitutional concerns.


What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.

Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.

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