When it comes to its national intelligence community, the federal government has a major accountability problem.
Agencies like the NSA and the CIA operate outside of constitutional bounds with little to no actual oversight.
Trust in the Government
Many perceive that every law Congress passes is constitutional. But Congress passes numerous laws despite James Madison’s assertion that the federal government would remain limited.
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” These powers are defined in Article 1 Section 8 and further limited by the Bill of Rights. Many acts have been signed into “law” but still remain unconstitutional including the Patriot Act, its extension, and its secret interpretation, along with the FISA Amendments of 2008.
Saying the Patriot Act, its secret interpretation, and other acts that enable dragnet spying pushes the boundaries of constitutionality is a major understatement. Each violates the Fourth Amendment. They are all unlawful.
Without warrants, the Patriot Act enables surveillance to anyone including Americans through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Acts; pen registers and trap and trace are permitted without probable cause and expanded to include the internet web history, email, and other communications like chat; section 203 allows for intel collected on anyone to be shared with any government agency. Section 213 intentionally delays law enforcement from notifying the accused that they are being searched. Section 215 gags those under investigation from the fact they had been served a search warrant.
Clearly, the government has an accountability problem.
- Director of National Intelligence(DNI) James Clapper lies to congress.
- President Obama stated “When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.”
- Mike Rogers, told CNN that the NSA “is not listening to Americans’ phone calls. If it did, it is illegal. It is breaking the law.”
- Diane Feinstein insists that metadata is not surveillance
There is Oversight
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are said to oversee NSA.
But the FISC poses serious questions of bias, separation of powers, constitutionality, and jurisdictional issues. First and foremost, the FISC does not follow the Constitution. Federal courts are to only to judge on specified cases defined in Article III Section 2. It also approves general warrants strictly prohibited under the constitution
Secondly, the FISC is not designed to be impartial. Even though this court was made to protect against abuses from the executive branch, it serves as an entity under the executive branch. Only one party is allowed to be heard. Coincidentally, the intelligence agencies all reside under the executive branch. The FISC has approved 99.97% (33,938) of requests made by intelligence agencies. It only denied eleven.
While the Court approves most of the requests by NSA and other intelligence agencies, it is not able to provide oversight. “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.”
NSA has other declared oversight in the legislative branch which includes the intelligence committees in both the House and Senate. The Committees responsible for oversight on the intelligence agencies pale in comparable to size. They are unable to adequately check or even be prepared to question.
However, many of NSA’s actions are not known to the rest of Congress. In fact, much of Congress is stonewalled when trying to gain access to NSA programs or FISA Court Rulings.
“Two House members, GOP Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia and Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, have provided the Guardian with numerous letters and emails documenting their persistent, and unsuccessful, efforts to learn about NSA programs and relevant FISA court rulings.”
Blood on your hands.
“If you don’t allow them to spy on all of us, you’ll have blood on your hands.” Telephone, email, chat logs, geolocational data, financial records, contacts and connections are all being seized. Even though advances in technology makes it possible to store all this information cheaper each year, it requires enormous amounts of manpower to sift though this. Is quantity of data better than quality?
The purpose of requiring a warrant to investigate if a crime has been committed based on probable cause was intended to narrow investigations down. To be charged for a crime in a court of law, a defendant has to have shown the motive, means, and opportunity. Without probable cause, investigations become fishing expeditions with courts serving as the entity to sort out what is of value to prosecute crimes. The quantity of data being seized by the NSA is growing, yet even the White House Review Board showed that bulk collection has not stopped a single terrorist attack.
This raises next question. Is intelligence evidence? These two things are not one in the same. Evidence links a person to a crime. Locard stated, “Any action of an individual, and obviously the violent action constituting a crime, cannot occur without leaving a trace.”
Intelligence is information. It can be used in a variety of ways to form understanding of cultures, gain knowledge of weapon systems, learn foreign political affairs, understand foreign languages or even code. That information is intentionally used against that person, organization, or government.
Intelligence is being used as evidence. Michael Hayen stated, “We kill people by metadata.” Overseas, the drone war has been targeting SIM cards without evidence that the phone the SIM card corresponds to is in possession of the owner of that SIM card. Dragnet spying is illegal. Therefor any seizure of this as intelligence shouldn’t be admissible in court.
Spying is for Terrorism
The dragnet surveillance is supposedly used for terrorism only. Less than 20 terrorist cases have come about from dragnet surveillance. “It found just 17 of the cases were credited to NSA surveillance, and just one conviction came out of the government’s extra-controversial practice of spying on its own citizens. And that charge, against San Diego cab driver Basaaly Moalin, was for sending money to a terrorist group in Somalia. There was no threat of an actual attack.”
So an intelligence community, with a black hole budget, is collecting massive amounts of information on every single person. Not only is the surveillance unconstitutional, its excessively fraudulent, wasteful, and full of abuse. Where are the resources going? In other words, who is being targeted?
The Partnership for Civil Justice found that fusion centers (an information sharing liaison between NSA and local police) targeted anything but terrorists. Targets included Occupy Wall street Protesters, environmental activists, flash mobs, and even people who use alternative green transportation.
DEA is using intelligence to conduct anti-drug operations, then covers up the source of collection
Stop making excuses for the government. The law of the land is the Constitution. While acts written by Congress set out to expand power of an ever-increasing centralized government that includes dragnet surveillance, the role of the Constitution is one to restrict and limit power.