By Josh Gerstein
Congress should be consulted about the makeup and focus of a task force President Barack Obama is forming to delve into issues surrounding surveillance and privacy, House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Tuesday.
"Congress is going to have to be heavily involved to make sure that this board is populated with the right people, that it's actually exercising an appropriate function," Schiff said told guest host Peter Alexander on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
Schiff said he's assuming the new board -- most recently described by the White House as Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies -- will largely comprise technology experts.
"I assume this is going to be a board comprised of very tech-heavy participants who understand the industry. They may provide useful input on the [NSA] metadata program," he said.
On Friday, in broader remarks on the NSA surveillance controversy, Obama announced plans to form the new panel of outside experts.
"I am tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities -- particularly our surveillance technologies. 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," the president said.
On Monday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. announced he was beginning the process of forming the panel, which led to speculation that he was chairing or directing the effort. Not so, the White House said Tuesday.
"As we announced on Friday, the Review Group will be made up of independent outside experts," National Security Counsel spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told POLITICO in an email. "The DNI's role is one of facilitation, and the Group is not under the direction of or led by the DNI. The members require security clearances and access to classified information so they need to be administratively connected to the government, and the DNI's office is the right place to provide that. The review process and findings will be the Group's."
The White House has not yet released the list of members of the new panel but is expected to do so soon.