A new round of leaks from Snowden on NSA wiretapping have surfaced at the Washington Post and it appears to be the most troubling yet:
The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents. Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.
When you start looking at the actual report, then you see something as equally troubling; these accidents have been increasing at a rather significant rate. What I haven’t seen is an explanation for this increase, nor what the percentage of violations to legal intercepts is. That leaves a lot of questions, like if the NSA is becoming more sloppy or are they increasing surveillance that much? But what is really, really troubling is the oversight process. Remember this? “We also have federal judges that we’ve put in place who are not subject to political pressure,” Obama said at a news conference in June. “They’ve got lifetime tenure as federal judges, and they’re empowered to look over our shoulder at the executive branch to make sure that these programs aren’t being abused.” Well it turns out that isn’t exactly the truth.
The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often the government’s surveillance breaks the court’s rules that aim to protect Americans’ privacy. Without taking drastic steps, it also cannot check the veracity of the government’s assertions that the violations its staff members report are unintentional mistakes. “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.”
So how can we have proper oversight, when those charged with the oversight don’t even have the tools necessary? Simple, we can’t! It’s time for President Obama to address this issue to the nation. It’s time for him to call for fixes so that we can truly have “proper oversight”. It’s time for him to stop calling this a “phony scandal” and return to being the man we voted for in 2008. Us on the left need to push this also. Hold our man’s feet to the fire and make him stand up for what he told us. If we don’t, then we have no room at all to complain if a Republican becomes President and does the same thing.