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A White House whitewash of the NSA? Critics question task force’s autonomy

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has announced the names of the five members of a task force to examine the National Security Agency’s controversial collection of Internet and cell phone records, but privacy and open government advocates say they don’t believe the panel is likely to be very critical of the NSA program.

At the time Obama announced the panel’s creation Aug. 9, anger at the extent of the NSA collection efforts was at its height, and the president’s move was intended to calm growing congressional calls for curbs on the program. Obama said the panel would be made up of outside experts and would review the government’s use of its intelligence-gathering capabilities and whether it adhered to constitutional standards.

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