A panel of so-called independent experts appointed by President Obama to review the federal government's surveillance programs "has effectively been operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA and all other U.S. spy efforts," according to a report from the Associated Press. AP writes:
The panel's advisers work in offices on loan from the DNI. Interview requests and press statements from the review panel are carefully coordinated through the DNI's press office. James Clapper, the intelligence director, exempted the panel from U.S. rules that require federal committees to conduct their business and their meetings in ways the public can observe. Its final report, when it's issued, will be submitted for White House approval before the public can read it.
Even though no classified information has been discussed, the meetings have remained closed, and the press office for the DNI said that Clapper exempted the review panel from the Federal Advisory Committee Act due to the "highly classified nature of their review." The office also told the AP that, "We are conducting this review as openly and transparently as possible." In one meeting, representatives from tech giants including Microsoft and Apple advocated for more permission to be open with their users.