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Georgia Tech professor to testify over changes to NSA

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Updated: 1/14 8:05 pm
ATLANTA -- A Georgia Tech professor is one of five people who will testify on Capitol Hill Tuesday recommending sweeping changes to the National Security Agency.

WSB-TV Channel 2's Craig Lucie sat down with him for a one-on-one interview before he and the other members of an intelligence panel appear in public for the first time in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"He's a massive lawbreaker who has also created a national conversation," said Peter Swire, talking about Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who is still hiding out in Russia to avoid charges after he revealed the NSA's surveillance activities.

Swire is the only person to have government-wide responsibility for privacy policy.

"I was surprised so many domestic phone calls were being taken in for foreign intelligence reasons," Swire told Lucie.

Swire was chosen as one of five members of President Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.

In its 308-page report, there are 46 recommendations for Obama to change the NSA.

Swire and the rest of the intelligence panel found that the NSA's storage of phone data creates risks to privacy, public trust and civil liberty.

"On the telephone metadata, we say the government should not be monitoring these phone calls going forward. We believe it can transition to where the phone companies that already hold all these phone calls, then the government can touch base if they want the records," Swire said.

Another recommendation: "That people outside the United States are people too. They are our allies, and we should be a little more thoughtful about the ways we communicate that," said Swire.

Swire says the panel also believes a civilian should be eligible to become the NSA director.

But he says Obama has already told him and other panel members that may be rejected.

"He's indicated that he is not going to make the change to have the NSA become civilian. He thinks the military structure is not ready for that, but I believe the majority of the recommendations will be accepted and it will be a big moment for change," Swire said.

Monday, the White House said that Obama will go to the Justice Department to go over his review of the NSA's surveillance programs.

The president has indicated that he could strip theNSA of its ability to store telephone data for millions of Americans.

Video: WSB-TV Atlanta
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