Obama Nearing a Decision on Intelligence Review

WASHINGTON (AP) -

President Barack Obama is hosting a series of meetings this week with lawmakers, privacy advocates and intelligence officials as he nears a final decision on changes to the government’s controversial surveillance programs.

Obama could announce the changes as early as next week. He’s weighing more than 40 recommendations from a presidential review board that proposed restrictions on the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone records from millions of Americans.

A separate task force appointed by Congress has also undertaken its own review of the NSA’s vast powers. However, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board doesn’t expect to issue its report until late January at the earliest, meaning Obama will announce his recommendations before receiving the group’s final report.

Board members were meeting with the president at the White House Wednesday and have also held previous meetings with administration officials. Obama was also scheduled to huddle Wednesday with members of the intelligence community, many of whom have been pushing to keep the NSA surveillance programs intact.

On Thursday, Obama planned to meet with a handful of lawmakers. And representatives from privacy groups were scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon with Obama’s top lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, who has been heading the internal legal review.

That review was spurred by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of several secret government programs. Snowden faces espionage charges in the U.S., but has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.