16 August 2013

NSA Concealed Abuses From Justice Department and Director of National Intelligence

The National Security Agency not only violated the privacy rules we are supposed to trust it to obey thousands of times a year in a trend that has gotten worse and worse since 2008, it concealed the extent and nature of the abuses from oversight officials in the Justice Department, the Director of National Intelligence to whom it reports, and established unconstitutional programs without obtaining even FISA court approval. In a related Washington Post article, the chief FISC judge is quoted stating:
“The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court,” its chief, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, said in a written statement to The Washington Post. “The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance, and in that respect the FISC is in the same position as any other court when it comes to enforcing [government] compliance with its orders.”
But, this isn't really true.  In genuine courts, which have an adversary system and transparency, the people who could be harmed by government non-compliance with its order are informed of the existence of the orders and people allegedly harmed by a violation of an order have standing to enter an appearance contesting the order.  In the FISC case, only the government has standing to appear before the Court, the Orders that might be violated are known only to the government, and noncompliance is punished only if the government asks the Court to punish it.  Needless to say, this (almost never) actually happens - probably just once in the fall of 2009.

Congressional oversight committee members never saw the audits that showed this was the case and NSA employees were instructed to be purposefully vague in even internal reporting about their own abuses.  In general, Congressional efforts to provide oversight are muzzled and often thwarted by the agencies.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, increasingly looks like a Patriot and not a criminal, for revealing this massive web of NSA lies, deceit and abuse.

Every day that evidence mounts that a massive overhaul of how the federal government conducts intelligence activities needs to be undertaken to provide meaningful privacy protections to Americans (and to foreigners not involved in diplomatic or terrorist activities), and to provide meaningful oversight of an agency that even members of Congressional intelligence committees, supposedly overseeing courts and senior federal officials with jurisdiction over the NSA aren't told about, but private contractors can find out about.  The NSA is broken in a way not easily mended.

Simply put, the way the NSA is operating is un-American and Unpatriotic.  Its activities are doing as much to undermine the values of our country and our national security as they are to preserve it.  They have stopped working for "Team Good" and starting working for "Team Evil."  Our elected officials have the power to act, but they need to exercise it.

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