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Government The Courts

FISC Chief Judge: We Can't Effectively Oversee the NSA 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the neither-can-the-NSA dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to the Washington Post: 'The leader of the secret court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the government's vast spying programs said that its ability to do so is limited and that it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans. 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.' President Obama said in June, 'We also have federal judges that we've put in place who are not subject to political pressure. 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.' Not so much, Mr. President."
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FISC Chief Judge: We Can't Effectively Oversee the NSA

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  • by rts008 (812749) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:01PM (#44588651) Journal

    I have finally figured out why the statue holding 'the scales of justice' wore a blindfold! ;-)

  • One by one the cornerstones of represtitive government get kicked out of place and are used to pave the road to totalitarianism.
    • by lophophore (4087) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:03PM (#44588691) Homepage

      "Change You Can Believe In"!

      • by rubycodez (864176) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:11PM (#44588791)

        Obama delivered on the Transparency though, can see right through him

        • Yeah, a lot of good that does. As you all keep on electing the same old crap, I sure hope none of you are expecting any better from his successor, or anybody else for the foreseeable future...

          • by ttucker (2884057)

            Obama delivered on the Transparency though, can see right through him

            I think this statement was trying to say that he has obvious motives, or is ineffective at concealing his attempts at deception.

            • He's no more transparent than he ever was. It's only that people are looking a tiny bit more closely. His motives have been more than obvious since he first entered the arena of political gladiators' (more like the soap opera of professional wrestling). And please note, I'm not singling him out. This is the the very essence of the game.

              • by ttucker (2884057)
                I agree with you wholeheartedly. Supreme power only attracts the supremely corruptible.

                It is hard for someone to catch you in a debate when you have taken every position on every issue at some point. There is always a sound byte of the correct answer available.
          • not that old story again (electing this or that guy).

            face it: elections are a /dev/null exercise. no matter who you think is better, they've all been 'vetted' and chosen by the real leaders (groups) and they are sanitized so that they will respond to their true masters and owners.

            it really matters very little who you vote for. they are pretty much the same, at this point. no left-leaning candidates can ever get into office. we have right and far right, now.

            third party is a red herring. there's no way t

            • by s.petry (762400)

              An interesting tidbit about is that on immigration tests, immigrants are taught that the US is made up of a 2 party system called Democrat and Republican. They teach this to kids in school as well.

              I can't say I agree with your last point totally, since we have yet to test it. People need to be made aware of corrupt media and taught to get other candidates with high morals on ballots and not simply accept what they are given. That awakening is happening, and of course it may be too late. We have not prove

            • face it: elections are a /dev/null exercise

              Face it, the worst elected government you've ever had ran the country better than when it was colonies owned by a King and privately owned corporations.

            • by shentino (1139071)

              Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:13PM (#44588805) Journal

        Can we wantonly spy on your Internet activities?
        YES WE CAN!

        Can we store your email and search it at our leisure?
        YES WE CAN!

        Can we create a judicial overview process so flimsy and one-sided that there's almost no chance of any request being turned down?
        YES WE CAN!

      • He said change you could believe in, not change you would agree with.

    • by msauve (701917) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:22PM (#44588903)
      "represtitive government"

      Is that a portmanteau of "repressive representative" government?
  • Sigh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:02PM (#44588679) Journal

    Translation: The whole thing is a monumentally tragic, Constitution-violating fuck up, brought to you by two successive Administrations and a Congress that couldn't give a flying fuck about the Constitution.

    What a pathetic situation.

    • by Laxori666 (748529)
      Pathetic? This is amazingly incredible! This is something that is so incredibly blatant, so ridiculously obvious, so patently indicative of the ultimate lack of care Government (as a concept; not just ours in particular) has about the rights of its citizens, that it at least has more than a snowball's chance in hell of getting some people to change their minds about the nature of Government.

      Or maybe I'm being overly optimistic...
      • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by msauve (701917) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:27PM (#44588939)
        Calm down. Here's some panem et circenses [go.com].
      • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tolkienfan (892463) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:35PM (#44589019) Journal

        Nope.
        This'll just mean the republicans will get in next time with a landslide.
        People who vote think the system works. Voting reinforces that.
        All of this will be blamed on Obama... and the next government will make some visible but ineffective changes. After running on "ending the spying" or some such.
        They won't abolish these programs or punish the illegal spying. .. they'll add more "oversight".

        • by Bodhammer (559311)
          Maybe not - please see, read, and share this: http://www.humanevents.com/2013/08/15/mark-levins-liberty-amendments/ [humanevents.com]

          Let's unfuck America now!
          • Judging by the language in which it is written - heavily laden with words like "progressive" (as an insult) and "statist" - this is yet another libertarian thinking that they've got the plan to fix the world. Even assuming that they do, what exactly makes you believe that public at large would sign up to that vision?

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Look, anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that your proposals won't come to pass. So what's with the "maybe not"? Why don't you and your ilk try doing something effective, instead of grandstanding?

        • the repubs will NEVER run on 'ending the spying'. they are total control freaks.

          the dems are, too; but they keep a lower profile.

          both are still aweful and none can be trusted anymore.

        • by s.petry (762400)

          Start talking to people and educating them, that is our way out. Show them the way, and have them educate others. If we don't, the only chance for being free comes from a nasty and bloody revolt.

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      Translation: The whole thing is a monumentally tragic, Constitution-violating fuck up, brought to you by two successive Administrations and a Congress that couldn't give a flying fuck about the Constitution.

      What a pathetic situation.

      If you can't control it, then get rid of it before it gets bigger and multiplies.

    • by bratwiz (635601)

      Absolutely agreed.

      Ain't it time to just clean the fucking house already? Just kick all the sob's out and put brand new ones in there.

      If they're in, vote 'em OUT.

      • we have a bad process. so your solution is to fork another process.

        what we need is a new bashrc. using the old broken one and forking new instances will never fix our hung process.

        • Re:Sigh... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Zordak (123132) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:21AM (#44591701) Homepage Journal

          we have a bad process. so your solution is to fork another process.

          what we need is a new bashrc. using the old broken one and forking new instances will never fix our hung process.

          Our .bashrc is fine. The problem is that for 240 years, the sysadmins have been writing hackish, winding, indecipherable spaghetti code extension scripts designed to circumvent or undo all the good things .bashrc does. Then the auditors come in, look very closely at the scripts, and say, "Yup. Looks good. Those are definitely legitimate extensions to .bashrc."

  • nothing to see here, we are not doing anything illegal.
    i wish I can use that same logic for IRS

    • by Zordak (123132)
      To: Zlives
      From: IRS

      RE: Audit

      Dear Zlives,

      You appear to have recently posted a comment with an explicit and/or implied criticism of the King^H^H^H^H President and/or his ministers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H executive agencies. On an unrelated note, we are writing to inform you that, as a courtesy, we will be auditing you in the near future. Please prepare for this audit by gathering all tax records since the dawn of time, including supporting documentation, and a generous supply of ointment for lacerations and bruise

  • by jsepeta (412566) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:09PM (#44588773) Homepage

    we haven't had checks and balances in our government since the Gore V Bush decision, when Bush's dad's appointed supreme court ruled it's more important to abide by Florida's arbitrary date to count their votes than to count all the fucking votes using as much time as is necessary to insure an accurate count. why the fuck would anyone trust the US courts now? especially after the "corporations are people" decision.

  • NSA: Who, us? Nevar!

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:15PM (#44588827) Journal

    So, your honor, please tell us why you didn't bring these concerns to our attention before somebody with more guts than you'll ever have brought the matter up?

    Hell, you probably could have brought these concerns up without even revealing anything classified, or breaking any rules. They probably didn't remember to make it a state secret that you have no oversight powers worth mentioning, so it would have been entirely licit for you to complain about that.

    We might as well be honest here: Every day that you knew you had no oversight; but remained as a FISC justice, much less chief justice, you knowingly operated as a rubber stamp and a pitiful facade of rule of law. A rubber stamp for a program that you cannot have been stupid enough to think was entirely on the up-and-up. Unimpressive. Cowardly. Unworthy of your office.

    • This. Yes. Thank you.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      We might as well be honest here: Every day that you knew you had no oversight; but remained as a FISC justice, much less chief justice, you knowingly operated as a rubber stamp and a pitiful facade of rule of law. A rubber stamp for a program that you cannot have been stupid enough to think was entirely on the up-and-up. Unimpressive. Cowardly. Unworthy of your office.

      What you missed to mentioned: it's a life-long tenure as a rubber stamp; he just happened he liked his life long (as opposed to NSA starting to spill whatever skeletons in his closet and/or the equivalent of whatever passed nowadays as sending-in-a-drone on US soil).

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:27PM (#44588937)
    If Obama knew his Constitution, he would know that Federal judges do NOT have "lifetime tenure".

    "The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office." -- U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 1. [emphasis added]

    I think it is very much arguable that the FISA court judges, having "rubber stamped" nearly all surveillance requests, can be said to have violated "good behaviour".

    • Obama needs to stop talking about the NSA. No matter what he says, Snowden will pull out a document a few days later proving him wrong.

      Instead, Obama should just stand up for his next speech or press conference . . . and just blow us all a Bronx Cheer.

    • can be said to have violated "good behaviour".

      Arguable to whom? We have Sens. Wyden, Udall, Paul, Lee, Sanders, Merkley - and that's pretty much it. That's six out of 100, leaving 94 Senators in support of the NSA's unconstitutional behavior. Only 1/3 of them are up for re-election next year and you can expect at least 2/3 of those will be returning. So, even after the next election, you might have, at best, 16 : 84 in the Senate.

      For the same reason it's not even worth the effort to bring impeachment c

      • "Arguable to whom? We have Sens. Wyden, Udall, Paul, Lee, Sanders, Merkley..."

        Not really. You actually have more than that. Those are just the most outspoken ones. And others are starting to get pretty damned uncomfortable.

        But more to the point: if PEOPLE put pressure on their Legislators, something will get done. This is the kind of thing that people DO remember, come election day.

    • by bratwiz (635601)

      Well, I reckon it depends on who is signing those paychecks.

      (Hint: It ain't you or me)

    • by shentino (1139071)

      And yet it's congress that reserves the right to impeach them.

      Do you think they will when the NSA has skeletons to use if their pet rubber stamper is disarmed?

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:30PM (#44588977)

    They should just appoint a special investigator.

    They could give the investigator over-arching extra-legal authority, just like the agency he'd be investigating.

    I hear Edward Snowden has some experience in this area, and is currently in need of a job...

  • Who watches The Watchmen. By which, of course, I mean who has the DVD of The Watchmen and watches it? I thought it was pretty good myself. The montage during the opening credits was particularly well done.
  • by Tim12s (209786) on Friday August 16, 2013 @07:27PM (#44589623) Homepage

    Get more spies of course. Call it the NSA Safety Agency.

  • We also have federal judges that we've put in place who are not subject to political pressure. They've got lifetime tenure as federal judges

    Don't we have entire government departments dedicated to shortening lifetimes as efficiently as possible? Even if it's illegal and during times of peace?

    Seriously, if the system of laws that enabled our society to thrive and exist thus far no longer apply to the people entrusted to enforce and protect them..... we have a serious f**king problem on our hands.

    The president has a license to murder people and the means to spy on them with impunity. Outside of judicial oversight for the most part. For the saf

  • Your local judge also lacks the means to independently verify that your local police seek warrants, tell the truth about the evidence they have that supports probable cause, etc.
  • [The NSA] must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans.

    NO. What the NSA should trust is that the US Constitution overrides any other law in place. Something isn't "technically legal" just because it hasn't been ruled unconstitutional, that's just an excuse for getting away with criminal activities.

  • We already know that the NSA routinely violates the fourth amendment, and has committed billions of counts of illegal wiretapping. It's beyond reforming, its very existence is an attack on the bill of rights.

    Shut the fuckers DOWN.

    -jcr

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