NSA Funding Bill Passed By Senate Intelligence Community Gives Agency Extra Cash To Hunt 'Insider Threats'
from the because-you-can't-be-'protected'-unless-you're-discovered,-amiri dept
An earlier attempt to defund NSA programs via amendments to the Defense Dept. appropriations bill went nowhere (but by a much narrower margin than many expected), and now it’s up to both the House and Senate to push bills through reauthorizing the NSA’s budget.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has already given its thumbs up to NSA spending, advancing a bill that contains a little something extra for its favorite agency.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has advanced legislation to reauthorize funding for the National Security Agency and surveillance programs.
The bill includes new funding for technology to combat “insider threats” and leaks of classified information.
The committee approved the legislation in a 13-2 vote late Tuesday.
The NSA’s budget is currently $10.2 billion (which we know thanks to leaked documents). This additional funding will be earmarked for barn door closing and witch hunting.
The bill would empower the director of national intelligence to make improvements to the government’s process for investigating people with security clearances, such as Snowden.
The phrase, “throwing good money after bad” comes to mind. An intelligence agency of this size and reach should have been prepared for this eventuality and maybe, just maybe, shouldn’t have been so willing to outsource everything from system administration to the background checks themselves. Giving the NSA more money in order to help it guard against an eventuality like Snowden’s massive disclosures is basically rewarding it for running a leaky ship.
The bad news is that the government doesn’t know how to approach the “insider threat” issue. Any nuance is obliterated by a horrible combination of bureaucracy and paranoia, which results in the government suggesting that an employee’s “dissatisfaction with US policies” or financial problems indicate he or she is a possible “insider threat.”
According to the press release issued by the committee, the bill will also include some sort of protection for whistleblowers provided, of course, they go through official channels.
[Institutes] new statutory protections that protect the ability of legitimate whistleblowers to bring concerns directly to the attention of lawmakers, inspectors general and intelligence community leaders
That’s the press release wording, so we’ll have to wait until the text of the bill is made public before we’ll be able to judge the merits of this claim. The administration has talked a strong game about transparency but has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other administrations combined. Requiring whistleblowers to go through official channels in order to be afforded any legal protections just makes it that much more difficult for any true whistleblowing to occur. Official channels are in place to discourage whistleblowing rather than accommodate it, no matter what assurances might be included in the legislation. Besides, any bill that aims at both rooting out “insider threats” (many of whom may just be whistleblowers) and protecting whistleblowers is at odds with itself.
The bill passed 13-2 out of committee. Even without a roll call of those votes, it’s safe to assume the nays came from Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, which should be an indicator of the bill’s indulgence of the NSA’s desires and the presumably weak whistleblower protections that accompany it.