The NSA Review Panel is just PR, Guys

The Washington Post asks the question, “Why aren’t there any technologists on the NSA review panel?

The deep paranoia answer is that the review panel needs to be not-terribly-technologically literate so they don’t realize the extent of NSA abuses, but I think that the deep paranoia answer is wrong.

The point of the NSA Review Panel is to deliver enough mild criticisms and recommendations that the administration can point to it and say, “See!  We sought review and made changes!” but not actually resurface the whole embarrassing thing again.  The administration appointed people on the basis that they would fulfill that function.  If they’d had a technologist that could have fulfilled that function, they probably would have appointed him or her.

It’s not meant to be a cover up, exactly.  It’s just PR.  The administration has been completely clear from the beginning about what they want out of the Snowden revelations: they want not to change anything major, and for people to stop fucking talking about Snowden, and they probably want to do the most horrible things to Snowden they can, so that future whistleblowers will think twice about embarrassing the government.

The review panel is part of the “people should stop fucking talking about Snowden” aspect of that.

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