Wyden And Udall: Latest Revelations Of Abuses 'Are Just The Tip Of A Larger Iceberg'

from the and-here-we-are-on-the-titanic dept

Following the latest revelations of widespread abuses by the NSA, Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden — who had just recently warned that the intelligence community was not being upfront about abuses — have put out a statement saying that there’s still a lot more that hasn’t yet been revealed:

The executive branch has now confirmed that the rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans have been violated thousands of times each year. We have previously said that the violations of these laws and rules were more serious than had been acknowledged, and we believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg.

They point out that they really can’t reveal the details, but they’re hopeful that President Obama and the intelligence community recognizes that it’s better for them to come clean themselves. The obvious implication is that everyone knows that there are still thousands of documents held by reporters, and these other abuses are likely to come to light before long:

While Senate rules prohibit us from confirming or denying some of the details in today’s press reports, the American people have a right to know more details about the scope and severity of these violations, and we hope that the executive branch will take steps to publicly provide more information as part of the honest, public debate of surveillance authorities that the Administration has said it is interested in having.

In particular, we believe the public deserves to know more about the violations of the secret court orders that have authorized the bulk collection of Americans’ phone and email records under the USA PATRIOT Act. The public should also be told more about why the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has said that the executive branch’s implementation of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has circumvented the spirit of the law, particularly since the executive branch has declined to address this concern.

If the past is any indication, the intelligence community and the White House will ignore this. Sooner or later they’re going to have to realize that every misrepresentation, every denial later proven false and every outright lie is only making things even worse. The window has probably already passed for the administration and the intelligence community to regain the trust of the public, but if it’s going to happen, having the government come clean would be a good start.

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Comments on “Wyden And Udall: Latest Revelations Of Abuses 'Are Just The Tip Of A Larger Iceberg'”

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23 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Can't reveal or won't?

Maybe they wouldn’t go to jail. But they can retaliated against in other ways. They might find a committee re-assignment in their future. Their staff members could lose classified access. They might find a lot less cooperation in future legislative efforts from the administration and fellow legislators. They can be given less re-election funds by the democratic party. They might find themselves actively campaigned against, or even smeared by the powers that be.

It’s a tough place that they are in. Yes, they could probably tell us a lot about what’s going on. But if they did, they’d probably be replaced by someone more like Rogers or Feinstein. Where do you think they can do the most good, on the inside or outside?

Thomas Dial (profile) says:

Re: Re: Can't reveal or won't?

So neither of them considers this of enough importance to risk their precious places. I suppose it has to do with the importance of their other work. Can anyone recall something important that either of them has done?

My evaluation is that these are typical politicians looking out for themselves, speaking innuendos without either details or proof. If they have something important to tell that we need to know, let them tell it; otherwise they should stop stirring things up.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Can't reveal or won't?

Didn’t Mike point out in an earlier article that Senators and Reps have blanket immunity for speaking on the floor?

As was discussed by a former staffer, it’s not that easy:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130810/09240524136/jennifer-hoelzers-insiders-view-administrations-response-to-nsa-surveillance-leaks.shtml#c606

He’d lose his spot on the Intelligence Committee and his staffer would lose clearance. Just to start. And look at how Snowden is being attacked left and right and threatened with charges. Imagine what they’d do to Wyden.

Basically, he could do it, but it would be the end of his career… leaving Congress without him.

Eponymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Can't reveal or won't?

I do respect both of them for trying to push this issue as far as they can responsibly, but with that said we may be at a point where it’s needed to take a stand and illustrate to the people, especially those who are not following this as closely as us here, how bad of a situation this really is. In other words what we may need is the metaphorical self-immolation of a Senator, our own Mohamed Bouazizi for when the reasonable path just doesn’t work in negating such injustice. It is one thing for the administration to go after Snowden like it is, but to openly go after a sitting Senator in the same manner would be very galvanizing to the American people. I think many, even those who are sympathetic to the President, will find this a bridge too far and would withdraw support. While others of us who encourage, and are encouraged by, the endeavors of these men, Senators and whistleblowers alike, would redouble our efforts to support them where they need us. To me, and maybe I’m an outlier here, to have my Senator campaigned against by their own party for revealing secret info would be a compelling case for why they should be reelected!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Can't reveal or won't?

Plus as our duly elected representatives, I consider it their responsibility as part of their job to reveal these details (as well as whatever sick and twisted rules are being crafted and abused to make this whole mess possible). At this point I think any politician who withholds any part of the truth from the public is a criminal and a traitor, period.

Anonymous Coward says:

I was thinking of pointing out that the time to have been truthful and straight forward with the public has passed by and another missed opportunity has been made a milestone.

This is the full blown scandal the Obama administration has danced around not having on their doorstep.

Had the people in charge came out with something like, “Ya we gotta own up to some problems that have been revealed and we’re working on them now”. That might have been believed and the public went back to sleep on the issue.

Instead what has happened has been the doubling down on “nothings gonna change”. Everyone that has slung rocks at Snowden and Bradley are being exposed for just what they are, liars. Those that have supported the NSA and the spying program now have their backs to the wall as an enraged public slowly finds out what the government has been about and they are not happy.

It’ll be a while before the dust settles on this one because the public now knows no one in the know nor anyone still supporting all this spying will ever tell the truth. The truth will have to be gained some other way not involving those in power or those in charge. Of course the end result of such isn’t very pretty. Ask the criminals in jail how that works out.

Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

Sooner or later they’re going to have to realize that every misrepresentation, every denial later proven false and every outright lie is only making things even worse.

If history is any indication they’re going to keep shoveling this stuff faster and deeper until it buries them. After that there will be some scapegoats thrown out for the angry mob to tear apart. Until then don’t expect to hear anything that passes the giggle test.

Not Enough says:

Representatives are stifled

Techdirt has already covered how US Representatives like Alan Grayson are being stiffed when they ask about what the NSA is up to. Having a good representative is nice but it’s not enough. Many people thought Obama would staunchly defend civil liberties, but that hope is now dead.

If Ron Wyden gets the White House, maybe that would work.

Anonymous Coward says:

the public want and deserve to know everything concerning the abuses the surveillance has carried out, not just on the home ground but everywhere. as more information is released, the more upset other countries and governments are going to be. the one thing that everyone is going to be told, as soon as is possible, is that all this surveillance has stopped and will never re-start! i haven’t seen a single article that says anything like that is happening or is going to happen. the closest, and that is an absolute insult, is that the USA and German governments wont spy on each other. there is no mention at all about stopping the surveillance on the people in those countries, in either direction, by either government!
when you think back to how long it took China to become known about and to become part of the known world, it makes me wonder whether they had the right idea all along as far as not joining into all the crap that the rest of the world has?

gaf3 (profile) says:

Abuses

I hold our President responsible for failure to have a transparent oversight of the massive spying programs being perpetrated on the American public.
Our Congress needs to get some balls and require Obama to account to the Congress and America people for these outrageous spying activities at minimum as they have been applied to the American public at large.

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