FBI Director James Comey warned that a key change proposed by President Obama’s surveillance review panel would make terrorism investigations more cumbersome without any tangible benefit, Politico reports. Comey praised the panel generally but expressed disagreement with its proposal to require judicial approval for issuance of national security letters demanding business records from internet providers and others. He said that would put terror-related probes at a disadvantage compared with other types of investigations.
“The national security letter is not only among the most highly regulated things the FBI does, but a very important building block tool of our national security investigations,” Comey said. “What worries me about their suggestion that we impose a judicial procedure on NSLs, is that it would actually make it harder for us to do national security investigations than bank fraud investigations.” He also disputed claims that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden—whose unauthorized disclosures triggered an international debate over surveillance and privacy—is a “whistleblower” or “hero.” “Whistleblowers are really important and it's the reason we have devised and protect avenues within all the government, including the intelligence community to make sure people can report fraud, waste and abuse—very, very important,” Comey said. “I hear people talk about ‘whistleblower hero’ for revealing—I say for revealing what?”