Obama to meet with intel officials, lawmakers ahead of NSA report

President Obama will meet with lawmakers and leaders of the intelligence community later this week before he announces the results of his review of the nation's surveillance program, the White House said Tuesday.

He will host separate meetings on Wednesday with intelligence officials and members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Then he'll talk with congressional leaders on Thursday, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.


The meetings come as the White House nears "the final stages of our ongoing internal review" into the government's surveillance practices, Hayden said.

On Monday, press secretary Jay Carney said Obama plans to announce the findings of his review of National Security Agency (NSA) practices before his State of the Union address on Jan. 28.

The congressional meeting will be small, including only the president, senior White House staff and the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees, National Journal reported. Three prominent lawmakers on the issue — Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner (Wis.) — were reportedly invited.

Udall's office said he will be attending, as did the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Separately, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler is expected to meet with civil society groups at the White House on Thursday afternoon in a chat about technology, privacy protections and civil liberties, according to Politico.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute and the Federation of American Scientists are among the groups sending a representative to the meeting.

The president spent his winter vacation reviewing a White House report that recommends dozens of steps the administration could take to increase transparency or impose limits on the nation’s intelligence programs.

Before leaving for Hawaii, Obama said that despite feeling "confident that the NSA is not engaging in domestic surveillance and not snooping around," he would be weighing each of the task force's 46 suggested changes.

"The question we're going to have to ask is can we accomplish the same goals that this program is intended to accomplish in ways that give the public more confidence that, in fact, the NSA is doing what it's supposed to be doing," he said.

The recommendations include ending the NSA’s collection of Americans’ phone records, additional scrutiny on decisions to surveil foreign leaders, and new safeguards requiring the administration to obtain judicial approval before reviewing citizen’s financial or phone records.

On Tuesday, Carney said that during his vacation, Obama sorted the review group's proposals into categories: "which recommendations we will implement and which might require further study, as well as those we might not pursue."

"He considered vast quantities of briefing materials. And I'm sure he gave, and has given, the report from the review group a great deal of consideration," Carney said.

The White House has thus far declined to make public any of the president’s decisions, with the exception of the panels’ call to split the leadership of the National Security Agency and the Pentagon’s U.S. Cyber Command. The administration said last month that it would retain the status quo, keeping a military official as the head of the spy agency.

White House aides told The Los Angeles Times earlier this month that the president will likely present a package of reforms that includes placing a public advocate on the secretive federal court that grants legal approval for surveillance programs.

The president is also likely to wind down the government’s telephone metadata database, the paper reported. Instead, telephone companies or some other third party would be required to keep the records, with the administration then seeking legal approval for a search of the data.

Last week, the administration announced that the surveillance court had reapproved the NSA’s telephone data program.

Still, in the statement announcing the approval, an administration spokesman noted that the intelligence community was "open to modifications to this program that would provide additional privacy and civil liberty protections while still maintaining its operational benefits."

— Kate Tummarello contributed. 

This story was updated at 6:01 p.m.