Connecting Dots

I listened to Nina Totenberg's story about the FISA court this morning with some mixed feelings.  There was some good information in there, but there were some very important things missed entirely.

There were two critical items missed.  The first is that the FISA court approves almost all requests (99.97%, over the past five years.  100% over the past three.  This is several thousand requests, including, apparently, at least one request to monitor everyone).  So even if their purview has been limited, they haven't been fulfilling their duty within their sphere of operations.

The second point missed (repeatedly, actually) is that Congress doesn't have effective oversight.  They should, but there is substantial evidence that the intelligence services have directly lied to Congress about what they are, or are not, doing.

For evidence of this, look at what Senators Wyden and Udall were saying during debate, the last time the Patriot Act came up for renewal.  They knew (due to their positions on the Intelligence Committee) at least some of what was going on, and tried to tell others in Congress about it.

You could also listen to what a number of others (who were not on either of the Intelligence Committees) said during that debate, as it has been concretely contradicted by what has come out recently.

You could also check the testimony that the DNI recently gave, which he later admitted was "the least untrue" summary he could give.  Yeah, we don't want "least untrue".  We want the facts.

And one simple fact is that Congress has not been able to give effective oversight of these programs.  (There is, of course, the follow on question of whether Congress would, if given the opportunity, and that would be a fair question.  Color me skeptical, personally.  But that's neither here nor there, at the moment.)

No comments:

Post a Comment