Saturday, March 2, 2013

Thank you, Mary Ellen Callahan

As you probably know or have realized if you are a regular reader, I have this weird fixation with paying attention to our civil liberties and our Bill of Rights. Don't ask me where it came from - I was breast fed, lead a fairly normal childhood, who knows? Somewhere along the line I developed a serious problem with authority and fear of the state.

President Obama has of course been a pretty ne'er disaster in regards to the aforementioned. Any time a politician says "trust me," be seriously afraid. He had his new spokesman come out the other day and try to whitewash things during a speech at Georgetown:
NSA General Counsel Rajesh Re Speech At Georgetown Law

...There are three pervasive false myths about NSA that I believe are belied by this reality, which I would like to address:
False Myth #1:   NSA is a vacuum that indiscriminately sweeps up and stores global communications.
False Myth #2:   NSA is spying on Americans at home and abroad with questionable or no legal basis.
False Myth #3:   NSA operates in the shadows free from external scrutiny or any true accountability.
My concern is that these false myths may not just color public perception of NSA, but impede thoughtful discourse about the unique challenges and opportunities posed by big data in the context of national security.  Before turning to these false myths, however, allow me to give you a brief overview of NSA’s mission and the complex, dynamic, and evolving environment in which it operates. 
De goes on and on. He makes the statement that the NSA is "subject to a spectrum of detailed scrutiny throughout all three branches of government." What is humorous is the following response from somebody who should know. From HuffPo:
 ...De's faith in accountability emanating from the legislative branch was met with skepticism by at least one listener in his audience -- former Department of Homeland Security Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan. Before she left office last year, Callahan tussled with other agencies over how broadly they should share private information on Americans. 

At a panel immediately after De's speech, Callahan said, "I do not believe Congress is functioning" as an oversight body for the intelligence community.

"I do not see that happening. And that's my concern because that's an important function, fundamentally involving the branches of government," she told HuffPost. "NSA actually has a lot of statutory infrastructure built into it. But I haven't seen the NSA go up on the hill, and I haven't seen any of the other [members of the] intelligence community go up on the hill and have a thoughtful discussion ... even my awareness of the classified ones."

So who are you going to believe, a lawyer who has been on the job for ten months or the woman from Homeland Security? Somebody ain't telling the truth. Easy choice for me. What we have operating at the moment is an administration that thinks that it can do anything in regards to spying on its citizens, maybe even killing its citizens, unchecked, this time aided and abetted by a complicit chief judiciary. If not the NSA, are there not a bevy of other shadowy acronym agencies operating black ops against our citizens off the books?

I read the entire piece, from minimization standards, to oversight, to the applicability of Section 702. Why am I not reassured? No, I do not think I trust you.

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