Rep. Mike Pompeo Says NSA's Metadata Program Is A Result Of The Way 'Government Is Supposed To Operate'

from the oh,-good,-let's-hear-some-more-about-this-famous-'oversight' dept

Rep. Mike Pompeo who, along with Rep. Richard Nugent, whipped up the “red herring” amendment designed to draw support away from Rep. Justin Amash’s more direct NSA-defunding effort, took to the mic to do a bit of orating before his amendment sailed through on a 409-12 vote.

Pompeo’s amendment did little more than restate what the NSA already does while giving the appearance some sort of funding might be on the line. His amendment dealt with Section 702, which already forbids the targeting of Americans, something that hadn’t been nearly as controversial as the NSA’s “anything goes” interpretation of Section 215, which Amash’s amendment targeted.

So, on his way to the hollowest of victories (status quo duly reinforced!), Pompeo stepped up to the podium to assure America that, thanks to his amendment, all would soon be right in the world.

“I want to make clear to everyone that contrary to the suggestions of some, the NSA has not been acting outside the scope of its authorities,” he said on the House floor. “The metadata program is carefully designed with program layers of oversight by all three branches of government. This is precisely the way our government ought to operate: with input from Article I and Article 2 and Article III of the United States Constitution.”

“Some” should be “many” and saying “acting outside the scope of its authorities” makes the assumption there’s some sort of credible authority presiding over its actions. A “carefully designed” program doesn’t tend to raise more questions than it answers when deployed. And as for Pompeo’s “oversight” and reference to the system of checks and balances? Both are a complete, horrific joke at this point.

But there’s more.

“It’s of course our duty to ensure that the NSA stays within its legal bounds here in Congress and this amendment makes it perfectly clear for everyone to know and understand,” Pompeo said.

If it’s your duty, you damn suck at it. “Staying within the legal bounds” means following existing, normal interpretations of the law, not a constant redrawing of boundaries and redefinitions of words like “relevant.” And, of course your amendment “makes it perfectly clear for everyone” — it hardly bothered “amending” anything at all.


“We shouldn’t mislead the American people into thinking that the NSA has been acting illegally. There is perhaps no program in the United States government that is as carefully monitored in overseeing as the programs this amendment attempts to clarify.”

Who’s “we,” Rep. Pompeo? Is that a bit of a slam against legislators who are concerned about the reach of the NSA’s surveillance? And “mislead?” No one’s “misleading” anyone about the supposed legality of these programs. Unfortunately for Americans (and many other nationalities), the secret court system and secret interpretations of secret laws have made sure that all of this stuff, that would normally raise huge, red flags about violating the rights of American citizens, IS ALL VERY LEGAL.

That’s the problem. It shouldn’t be. But it is.

And to hell with your “carefully monitored” and “oversight.” Those terms are as meaningless as the NSA’s definition of “relevant.” There are plenty of legislators still reeling from these disclosures and the few who were privy to all the details have either been giving Americans the “there, there, nothing to be concerned about” speech (Dianne Feinstein and others) or the “because we’ll be slaughtered by terrorists without it” speech (Mike Rogers and others). Even fewer have been saying “Americans are going to be very shocked at the breadth of these programs” (Ron Wyden and a couple of others).

To say this has been “carefully monitored” gives it the appearance that someone’s been pushing back at the overreach with some sort of success. This obviously isn’t true and I’d thank you and all the other NSA cheerleaders to stop pretending these programs have ever been subject to true oversight, much less any meaningful checks and balances.

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Comments on “Rep. Mike Pompeo Says NSA's Metadata Program Is A Result Of The Way 'Government Is Supposed To Operate'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

The government, once again, screw it up. When the law prevents the government from doing something, they get Congress to pass a law that allows them to do just that while also making it illegal for the general public to do that and by classifying everything as “top secret” and “national security”.

Just because Congress passed a law still doesn’t make it legally right and trying to fool the American Public into thinking that what it’s doing is constitutionally sound, it’s not. Congress is as corrupt as the Obama Administration because you have Congress passing laws for the Obama Administration just to make sure that it’s legal.

It’s sort like the Obama Administration declaring that they can assassinate American citizens in other countries and then getting Congress to pass a law to make that legal.

I guess one hand washes the other … huh?

artp (profile) says:

makes it perfectly clear for everyone to know and understand

You missed one, Tim. But there were so many to choose from!

The problem with this quote, of course, is that nobody in Congress has been told anything that they can “know and understand”. There is no oversight, there is no information, there is no knowledge of what the NSA is doing, even among those in Congress who are appointed as oversight. And now that we have been gifted with enough information that we DO know and understand what the NSA is doing, we are told more lies.

Fear. It must be fear. Nothing else makes people act like such idiots as fear – fear of enemies, fear of being wrong, fear of being exposed, fear of losing power, fear, fear, fear!

out_of_the_blue says:

TRUE! You need to stop pretending gov't is EVER good.

“Government is not eloquence, nor persuasion, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master.” George Washington [From memory, near exact, except I replace his “fearful” with “fearsome”, as more in line with modern use: obviously gov’t is no longer full at fear of The People.]

Anyhoo, seems minion just can’t get over mistaken notion about the intrinsic nature of gov’t. It exists for own sake and in EVERY instance always does the same: military adventures abroad, domestic tyranny, inflates the money supply which collapses the economy and leave The Rich owning everything. We were lucky in the US for a while to have kicked out The Rich and had no large entrenched ruling class, but enough Born Rich have accumulated without any loyalty to country, let alone to the rights of others, that the inevitable is occurring.

Gov’t is a rabid attack dog going to do EVIL to someone, so it should be pointed at actual criminals — that’s why gov’t always finds or creates some external threat. But in fact The Rich are always the worst real threat, and should be hampered and harassed at every turn, or they’ll use gov’t force against everyone else. Gov’t should provide for the general good, not become the tool of The Rich, and humans should grasp that by now.

So tax the HELL out of The Rich, OVER 100% rates if necessary to get them to be semi-reasonable, especially on obscenely large estates, to slow down the rise of inherited tyrants. It’s proven time and again to be the only non-violent method of keeping The Rich from going crazy and bringing down civilization.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: TRUE! You need to stop pretending gov't is EVER good.

Over 100% tax rates? Goddamn!

Why would anyone try to excel at anything when they are punished by being stripped of the entire product of their labour and then some more just for good measure?

Your approach is flawed.

It is far more reasonable to establish a ceiling for compensation based on what the lowest paid employee in the company earns. Something like, the top earning employee (CEO?) can’t make more than 50 times the least paid employee (value pulled out of my ass, but you get the picture).

This is fair for both sides. The CEO isn’t being stopped from becoming EVEN RICHER if he wants. All he has to do is stop being a douche and pass on some of the company’s wealth to the grunts that make it work.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: TRUE! You need to stop pretending gov't is EVER good.

Good luck with that. What you would end up with is either a free-for-all failed state like Somalia or a newly-super-repressive police state as an unintended result of the revolution you appear to want to start, either as a result of the failure or success of it.

Go away, learn some history, study the history of revolutions, and see if I’m right.

We don’t need a revolution followed by rivers of blood and years of warfare with enemies who pounce on us while we’re weak, followed by years of repression to maintain the status quo and keep new (or old) leaders in place.

We need to work within the system to elect leaders who actually represent us by actively promoting third parties. Merely voting ourselves won’t solve the problem. We need to encourage other people to vote for effective leaders, too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: TRUE! You need to stop pretending gov't is EVER good.

“…keep new (or old) leaders in place”. I don’t think you understand the concept of anarchy. Go away and learn about it.
In the meantime, here’s a quote from The Joker for you to mull over: “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs”.

TDF says:


If you think about (and you should), the reason the FISA court has approved all of the requests for surveillance that are presented is they are presented after the fact. There is no choice but to rubber stamp it because it has already been done. There is no prior review and approval. “…how the government should work…” Really?

Anonymous Coward says:

Just because a law has been passed does not make it legal. We see this time and again how flawed that idea is. Just look at all the abortion things being rammed through state legislatures. They no sooner get the ink dried and it’s facing a court battle that more times than not proves it isn’t legal.

I for one will not forget who is responsible for assisting this mad house proposed law come voting time. Maybe my fellow citizens won’t but I for one will. I am in favor of chunking the whole batch out on their keesters. They’d better make sure I can’t vote because I will not support any of these 3 card monte hucksters.

JWW (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I must say that I find it incredibly interesting that the abortion clinic regulations that have been passed in Texas are being ridiculed so heavily by the progressives. It’ll put them out of business? You don’t say. Regulations impact businesses and impose costs on them?? Reallly??!!

I’d actually give a shit about their arguments if they’d ever ever ever, even once stood up against regulating ANY other industry. Why is it that other businesses need to suck it up and deal with all the regulations the progressives love? But when its the abortion industry that is facing regulations, then it’ll “put them out of business”? Progressives have never worried about business’ abilities to deal with regulations up to now. So screw them on this one. Either you admit regulations affect businesses uniformly or shut the hell up.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your problem here is believing that there is such a thing as “the abortion business.” Practitioners don’t provide these services merely to make money. There are easier and safer ways of doing that.

This is not a Progressive/Conservative debate, it’s about the right of a woman to own her own body and not be relegated to “Ward of the state” because she’s considered to be pregnant from the moment she hits puberty.

Anonymous Coward says:

Illegally seizing law-a-biding citizen’s metadata information and storing that information for decades (feds never delete anything) is highly illegal under the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution.

* Location information
* Call record information
* Email record information
* Bank account history information
* Records of your driving routes thru license plate scanners

Citizens do not wave their expectations to privacy, simply because they want to communicate using modern technology.

I am simply stunned at how many elected officials are attempting to betray law-a-biding US citezens, by destroying the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution.

It’s sickening to watch, and a disgrace to those that came before us, and those who will come after.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Duelling quotes

No problem about Godwin — the law just says that the probability that Nazis will be brought up approaches 100% with time, not that bringing them up is necessarily mistaken.

But, in this case, it’s appropriate. I’m not calling anyone a Nazi — I’m merely pointing out that justifying an action on the basis that it’s legal is pure bullshit.

The legality of something says nothing about the morality of it or whether or not it’s a good idea.

Get The Picture says:



I just got a response from Culberson that the reason he voted against the Amash amendment is because he voted in favor of the Pompeo amendment. Do not be satisfied with this type of response from any politician., See The Pompeo amendment does nothing to curtail the mass collection and storage of metadata by the NSA when they use a third party contractor. I guess Culberson has not read the stories about Snowden. If anyone believes the new Utah data center will only be staffed by NSA employees, then I have bridge to sell you.

Why is the metadata so important? It allows them to build a web of who is connected to whom just like they did in the story Octopus and even though they were restricted to two hops, the NSA was going three hops, i.e. you, your friend, your friend?s friend, your friend?s friend?s friend. Four and half hops connect everybody in the country.

Even if you are not technically adept, you can still see the youtube video about metadata at On the demo imagine telephone number, name, etc. and you get the picture. Yet the testimony provided claims there is no text involved in metadata gathering, which is only a slight of term considering that the next step is to create a CVS file, known as comma-separated files and in computing you only have numeric, alphabetic and null data at the second basic level of computing (meta data). The first level is just 0 or 1?s (binary data). I contend that the programming or coding change is to add a filter where phone number is equal to (phone number giving them probable cause) instead of a blanket collection. Amash amendment would have cut off the funding if they failed to comply. I would also be willing to go one step further to claim this technology already exists, based on the individual warrants served on the data communications companies by individual law enforcement agencies at the local level.

The last flaw of the Pompeo Amendment does not allow the NSA to get the electronic communication information of Americans that may be part of sleeper cell operating totally within our borders and never make an overseas call. Someone can just fly into the US, buy a burner phone to call in the cell and hand them directions in a folded up napkin at a coffee shop.

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