President Obama fired most of his Intelligence Advisory Board prior to the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, according to a new report from Politico.
In all, the President reduced the size of the board from 14 members to just four prior to Snowden’s revelations, causing critics to pounce on the contradiction between that action and what Obama said in his recent NSA-centered press conference.
In comments since the Snowden leaks, Obama has stated that he had already planned to overhaul the NSA surveillance collection program before The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald first reported on the alleged abuses of power.
However, that declaration has puzzled critics like TechDirt’s Mike Masnick, who pointed out that prior to the leaks, Obama fired all but his closest advisors from the board, including Indiana Democrat Rep. Lee Hamilton, who had written an op-ed claiming NSA surveillance efforts were out of hand.
When approached for comment by Politico, Hamilton said, “They kicked me off… I was on it a long time under Bush and under Obama. They wanted to make some changes.”
At last week’s press conference, the President reiterated what he’d said since the scandal first broke — that the US is “not interested in spying on ordinary people.” He repeated that statement several times and also said he believed all spying programs were operating within the boundaries of extant laws on surveillance.
However, a report we brought you on Thursday would directly contradict the President (again), revealing that NSA abuses had totaled in the thousands during each of the past five years.
Opponents of the administration (and Snowden supporters) believe this is ammo that Obama fired board members to ramp up surveillance rather than scale back.
More from the President here:
The last several days of Gallup tracking has President Obama’s approval rating below water. Last week, it hit a low of 41 percent against a 50 percent disapproval.
The last few days, it has rebounded to around 45 percent, but for a couple of weeks now it has stayed consistently below disapproval ratings.
To put it in perspective, the President took office in January 2009. At that point, he had a 69 percent approval rating and a 13 percent disapproval. As of today, Gallup’s numbers show a five-year drop in approval of 24 percent and a five-year increase in disapproval of 34 percent.
Do you think the news that Obama fired most of his Intelligence Advisory Board will help or hurt?