Congressional Staffers Told To Pretend NSA Leak Docs Don't Exist; So How Are They Supposed To Respond?

from the i-prefer-not-to-be-governed-by-the-insane dept

Last week, we thought it was ridiculous enough that the DoD (of which the NSA is a key part) had reminded all staff that they were not allowed to look at any of the leaked NSA documents, even if they came across them in the press. If they spotted any, they had to alert various security officials and delete what they saw “by holding down the SHIFT key while pressing the DELETE key for Windows-based systems and clearing of the internet browser cache.” As we noted at the time, pretending these documents aren’t public does not make much sense, and suggests a government agency that does not want to live in reality.

Now we can add Congress to that list as well. Senate staffers have now been told not to look at the leaked documents, and similarly that they need to “contact the Office of Senate Security for assistance” if they happened across any of the documents accidentally. Once again, this is insane because it means Congress should deny reality and pretend to live with its collective head in the sand — which is no way to govern.

However, the much bigger deal is that if this were actually obeyed (and it’s not), this would effectively hinder Congress’s required duty of oversight of the NSA to prevent abuse. If the very Congress that’s supposed to monitor the NSA’s practices, and which has already been directly lied to by the intelligence community is now being told that it can’t even look at the leaks to understand what’s going on, how the hell are they supposed to do their oversight job?

Furthermore, last week, we pointed to some video of Rep. Grayson on the House floor giving an impassioned speech about the leaks… and displaying many of the leaked NSA docs blown up on an easel. If Congress isn’t allowed to look at them, but Congress is also presenting them on the floor of the House and broadcasting live on C-SPAN and YouTube for the world to see… was the rest of Congress just supposed to avert its eyes while Grayson spoke? Is that a reasonable world?

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Comments on “Congressional Staffers Told To Pretend NSA Leak Docs Don't Exist; So How Are They Supposed To Respond?”

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40 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Some mighty strange 'oversight' there

So if congress is supposed to be the ones in charge of oversight over the NSA’s actions, but they can be told not to review or even look at documents showing the NSA’s actual actions, rather than just what they are told about their actions… who exactly is the boss of who again?

Last I checked if an employee is able to tell their ‘boss’ what they can and cannot do, that’s a pretty good indication that the ‘boss’ is not in fact the one in charge.

Michael (profile) says:

Enforcement

How can they possibly expect to be able to enforce such a ban? They would need some way to constantly monitor all of the communications being sent to and from congressional staffers, and mine that data to determine if someone has not been following the order.

Such a task is impossible and anyone who says otherwise must be lying.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Enforcement

For anyone still naive enough to believe the NSA is not reading our emails:

Americans Sent Over a Hundred Million Father?s Day Messages, Says N.S.A.

The N.S.A. director added that the agency had not foiled any terror plots over the weekend but did uncover between thirty and forty thousand extramarital relationships. Yeah…

Anonymous Coward says:

My demands

1) I want a complete list of all federal agencies that have records of any of the following past or present information of mine:
Name,
address,
ip addresses,
phone #s,
drivers license #,
ssn,
photo,
fingerprints,
any other information that can be tied to me.
The list should include the types of information retained and the reasons that is stored.

2) If there are any agencies in that list beyond the IRS, Census Bureau, and the SSA, I want that information immediately deleted.

(The only exception is if I’m being investigated for a federal crime. In which case, if I’m not brought before a federal judge and charged within 6 months, all such information should be deleted.)

jameshogg says:

Stupid dumbasses.

This is beyond hysterical. It will not work.

Everyone knows that implementing the six-strikes policy on citizens is the best way of preventing them from ever getting their hands on unauthorised material.

I mean for goodness sake. Does NOBODY know that installing DRM on everything is a proven method of stopping traitors, in this case NSA staff, from engaging in any kind of spying? Now do not get me wrong. It is not like you need to do tons of cross-referencing after you have built a giant database of copyrighted data or anything.

That would be silly. INSTEAD, you need to wait until a website like MegaUpload builds it up for you and steal that. It saves you a lot of legal hassle.

Just look at how well Xbox One is doing. All this media coverage, all this hate, and still NOBODY has been able to pirate a game yet! THAT is DRM in action, folks! Oh, I also heard that Microsoft have installed software on their Kinect systems to automatically blur out any other monitor in the room in case it is playing copyrighted material. See? Even MICROSOFT will not take the opportunity to pirate! That is how serious they are! The system can work! So take THAT, Gmail! Attachments promote piracy – never forget.

So there you go. I am now going to read Dragonball Z on my lovely JManga app. I just bought the whole series a few days ago for just ?100! Fucking bargain! This app brings my childhood back to life. Almost as if the Dragonballs wished it back, eh? Aww… last episode was SO funny. Dendee had made the wish to transport everyone on the planet Namek to the planet Earth except for Goku and Frieza, and as everyone on Namek is teleporting, Vegeta who had just been brought back to life flies over to a startled Frieza who cannot believe Vegeta is alive. “You must be a ghost!”, claims Frieza. And Vegeta replies,

“Can a ghost do THIS, FRIEZA?!”

But before he can charge his energy ball to attack Frieza, he JUST TELEPORTS AND DISAPPEARS INTO THIN AIR! LOL!

I love irony.

Anonymous Coward says:

Since I am a target, it is not an exaggeration when William Binney said they can watch ideas FORM INSIDE YOUR HEAD. These documents and revelations are a very small part of a very sophisticated machine. It was a planned leak. Whether Snowden was an actual leaker or someones patsy/actor I don’t know. Any little bit that makes the public more aware is a good idea.

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