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Church Committee Members Say New Group Needed To Watch NSA 143

Trailrunner7 writes "In a letter sent to President Obama and members of Congress, former members and staff of the Church Committee on Intelligence said that the revelations of the NSA activities have caused 'a crisis of public confidence' and encouraged the formation of a new committee to undertake 'significant and public reexamination of intelligence community practices.' In the letter sent Monday to Obama and Congress, several former advisers to and members of the Church committee, including the former chief counsel, said that the current situation involving the NSA bears striking resemblances to the one in 1975 and that the scope of what the NSA is doing today is orders of magnitude larger than what was happening nearly 40 years ago.

'The need for another thorough, independent, and public congressional investigation of intelligence activity practices that affect the rights of Americans is apparent. There is a crisis of public confidence. Misleading statements by agency officials to Congress, the courts, and the public have undermined public trust in the intelligence community and in the capacity for the branches of government to provide meaningful oversight,' the letter says."
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Church Committee Members Say New Group Needed To Watch NSA

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  • by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:55PM (#46517081)

    You mean "lies" - FTFY.

  • really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaWhilly ( 2555136 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:58PM (#46517129)
    We have a group that monitors the NSA. The NSA lied to them.
  • by Rigel47 ( 2991727 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:05PM (#46517239)
    But I can't help but feel that the very nature of our Government has morphed. Institutions like the NSA aren't bothered by public perception -- they have grown into their own. They are beholden only to their own agenda and will do whatever it takes (lying to congress, fabricating effectiveness) to maintain and expand their power. Obama will do some hand-wringing on TV but in the end nothing will change.
  • Re:really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:06PM (#46517251)

    It's turtles all the way down.

    There is no sense in having yet another layer of watcher if it isn't possible to verify their work.

  • And do what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:18PM (#46517389)

    Sure, an oversight committee would be a good idea. But are they going to be able to actually do their job? High-ranking officials in the NSA have already demonstrated they are willing to outright lie to congress, so why would they be any more honest here?

    We'll just end up with a committee that isn't allowed to know about the things they should be monitoring, wouldn't be told if they were allowed to know, and can't actually do anything about any abuses they do find beyond politely reminding the NSA that their actions are probably illegal.

  • Reform (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:23PM (#46517441)

    No amount of "reform" is going to fix this. Adding more lawyers and more bureaucracy will not fix this. It's all cop-outs and the NSA will keep doing what it's doing under whatever name it's given as part whatever cop-out reform you can imagine.

    You might get there with constitutional amendments, but personally I'm arguing for a breakup; the problem is the millions highly paid bureaucrats ensconced in Washington doing the bidding of their hundred foot tall political Masters of the Universe in league with corporate statists trying to rectifiy the world to fit their business models. We don't actually need these people to live well and honorably, folks.

    We really don't.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:39PM (#46517609) Journal

    Not just lies, perjury. Those lies were told under oath.

    If we had a functioning justice system in this country, those perps would be in jail awaiting trial right now.


  • Re:really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:41PM (#46517637) Journal

    Exactly. The only remedy for the NSA problem is to disband the NSA, and bar all of its current employees from any future jobs in government or as contractors to the government.


  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @01:50PM (#46517739)

    Who watches the watchmen?

    In theory, that would be the job of the free press.

  • Just disband it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @02:15PM (#46518015) Homepage Journal

    That's what you do with rogue agencies.

    Back when I was in the Canadian Army, we disbanded entire units, burned their colors, demoted their officers, and punished the guilty for torturing civilians in Africa.

    Do that with the NSA. Starting at the top, with long prison sentences in gulags.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @02:28PM (#46518141) Homepage

    In theory, that would be the job of the free press.

    Well you guys have a free press in the US, the only problem's sucking the Obama admin's nutsack. The people writing the majority of the articles are happy to roll over for any request, and they'll take anything including OFA/Media Matters talking points as gospel truth. And people on that side of the spectrum, refuse to listen to this, believing it to be "lies" or "disinformation" because they're blinded by partisanship. Or they simply believe the talking points that it's "all about race." That's probably my favorite one, seriously...these are the same people who were moaning and bitching about the Iraq war, but are no where to be seen after this administration launched several new ones.

  • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @03:11PM (#46518575)

    Laws apply to everybody regardless of who's roaming the planet.

    Otherwise the psychos end up running things.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @03:25PM (#46518703)

    There is never greater need for the rule of law than when society is at war or otherwise under attack.

    In fact, artificial creation of "emergencies" is a classic ploy of governments to grab more power over the people.
  • Re:really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @03:31PM (#46518765)

    "We have a group that monitors the NSA. The NSA lied to them."

    BS. Do you really think the chair of the Intelligence Committe, Dianne Feinstein, didn't have a pretty good idea of what was going on? She was one of the people pushing for it.

    The fact that this uproar is only happening now, when she found out that *SHE* was being spied on, would be hilarious if it weren't such a goddamned tragedy and parody of justice.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @03:39PM (#46518847)

    "And to preach to the choir, but shouldn't the conversation shift to asking:

    Which risks are we (as a society) willing to take

    What does the intelligence community need to fulfill its social responsibility?"

    NO. We already have answers to these questions.

    The Constitution clearly shows us the safeguards to use: strictly limited government is the only solid answer to the first question, and government's actions outside the Constitution have only been further proving the validity of that. (Though why we should need even more proof than history had already given us might actually be a valid question.)

    As for what the intelligence committee "needs": that is also pretty damned clear. The first thing they need is to ensure the government stops spying on all American citizens who aren't prior suspects of espionage... with probable-cause EVIDENCE of the latter.

    The second thing they need is to make sure the government stops doing stupid spy shit to our allies and pissing them off.

    After that, we will see.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:16PM (#46519157)

    The psychos do run things, because laws are not applied to leadership. That is an accurate summary of the current state of governance for most countries of the world.

    Do I get whooshed now?

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban