Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said President Obama should use as much executive power as possible to reform the National Security Agency, because Congress probably can’t.
Schiff, a senior member on the House Intelligence Committee, attended a meeting last week with other lawmakers at the White House to discuss possible reforms with Obama.
“Very difficult. Very tall order for a very dysfunctional congress, which is why I think the president is going to need to go as far as he can through the executive process,” Schiff said. “A lot of these things can be done ... the restructuring of the metadata program is a significant part by the executive acting on its own.”
At the White House meeting, Schiff recounted that there were “very deeply held and divergent views” among the members who attended.
On the issue of an independent advocate, however, Schiff said “there was consensus.”
The advocate would likely argue cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which grants the NSA authority to executive its surveillance operations.
Schiff said he urged the president not to make the advocate a third party, because it would then be viewed as a surrogate to the NSA.
He said he hopes Obama moves to a model where phone companies keep their own records but the government can obtain data from them in a timely way.
Obama is scheduled to announce reforms to the agency on Friday.