Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post reported on Wednesday (August 21) that the NSA unlawfully gathered tens of thousands of emails and other electronic communications between Americans as part of a now discontinued collection program. This information comes to our attention as a result of a 2011 “secret” court opinion.
In any case, intelligence officials declassified the 86-page opinion, which explains why the Chief Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ruled the collection as unconstitutional. In a nutshell, it is because the government provided fraudulent information to the court.
As an aside, this does appear to be an on-going problem with this government. Eric Holder filed a fraudulent affidavit with the federal courts, too.
NSA diverted large volumes of international data passing through fiber-optic cables within the United States into a repository where the material could be temporarily stored pending formal evaluation. Domestic electronic communications were “caught up” in this collection effort. The general counsel for NSA stated that this illegal collection wasn’t intentional. It falls under the heading, “shit happens.”
As an aside, since James Clapper already used those very same words in testimony before congress, this would seem to increase the possibility that this latest admission results from people running around trying to cover their own asses.
I offer kudos to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their efforts on behalf of the American people in filing this lawsuit.
Unfortunately, the bad news isn’t over. According to a separate report by Washington Post writer Carol Leonnig (August 15), the leader of the secret court whose job it is to provide critical oversight to the government’s vast spying network has said that it does not have the ability to keep tabs on all the spying that’s going on.
In a statement issued by Reggie Walton, the Chief Judge of the 11-judge court, “FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of information that is provided to the court. 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.”
As an aside, what this means is that the FISC shares the limitations of all other federal courts: it does not have the power of enforcement. Since the government knows this, I’m assuming that it’s party time in the NSA, at Cyber Command, and at Central Security Service. Party! Party! Party!
Somehow, though, I get the feeling that our once Constitutional Republic is just about done for.
Oh, okay … so here’s my question: Where in the hell is the United States Congress?
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for federal marshals
to take Hillary Clinton into custody for her criminal
negligence in the Benghazi debacle.