Inspector General For Intelligence Community Rejects Congress' Request To Investigate The NSA

from the oversight! dept

Remember, kids, how the NSA and its defenders keep talking about how much oversight there is? One part of that is the inspector general who is supposed to make sure that the NSA isn’t going rogue. Except… now that the Judiciary Committee asked the intelligence community Inspector General Charles McCullough to investigate the NSA’s dragnet data collections, he’s told them he just can’t do it, according to a recent report at Politico.

“At present, we are not resourced to conduct the requested review within the requested timeframe,” wrote McCullough, before adding he and other agency inspectors general are weighing now whether they can combine forces on a larger probe.

Not surprisingly, those who asked for the help, are not pleased. Senator Pat Leahy appears particularly angry about this:

That response didn’t sit well with Leahy, who raised the letter during a scathing speech on the Senate floor Wednesday that slammed the intelligence community for a “trust deficit.” Leahy also emphasized his belief that “the American people are rightly concerned that their private information could be swept up into a massive database, and then compromised.”

While it may be true that McCullough does not have significant resources to do this kind of investigation, that really just highlights the problem. There clearly is not sufficient oversight over the NSA’s activities. The fact that the very person in charge of this kind of investigation, when told to do it by Congress, says he can’t, should demonstrate just how little actual oversight there is. Perhaps instead of putting more money towards stopping the next Ed Snowden, the Senate should give that money to the inspector general to investigate the NSA and encourage the next Ed Snowden to come forward.

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Comments on “Inspector General For Intelligence Community Rejects Congress' Request To Investigate The NSA”

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34 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

So about that 'oversight'...

The FISA court relies on what the NSA tells it, the Senate Intelligence Committee is apparently composed of two NSA patsies that do everything they can to hide the NSA’s actions, including lying to the others on the committee, and now the Inspector General in charge of watching over the NSA says he can’t, currently at least, actually do so.

Where exactly is this famed ‘comprehensive oversight’ the administration has been trumpeting on about since this whole debacle started, because for the life of me I certainly can’t see it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: So about that 'oversight'...

Only if they use that power, and again, the problem comes when they get their briefings on the NSA from the NSA and it’s patsies.

So again, they only know of the NSA what the NSA wants them to know, and moreover even after the Snowden leaks have shown that the NSA has been lying to them for years, even when one of the people in charge of the NSA lies directly to their faces, they still seem unwilling to actually do anything about it, probably due to being terrified of being labeled as ‘soft on terrorism’, and nothing scares a politician more than the thought of losing their cushy ‘job’.

Ninja (profile) says:

Perhaps instead of putting more money towards stopping the next Ed Snowden, the Senate should give that money to the inspector general to investigate the NSA and encourage the next Ed Snowden to come forward.

Or perhaps they could simply shut down the NSA and save 10 billion dollars per year while also giving another billion for oversight procedures within the Govt itself. Not happening.

out_of_the_blue says:

Problem is that only a few in Congress even bother to pretend.

Politicicians are all always corrupt, but for brief times they can be made to pretend that they’re not. This just shows that the corrupt corporatist / Wall Street / bankster takeover of the former US of A is to the stage that — as with Federal Reserve — they can’t even be investigated. It’s openly flouting Congressional authority, and they’re getting away with it, because MOST of Congress is firmly under control from money or blackmail or power lust.

[And by the way, Mike is now to stage of calling you “kids”. — Oh, it’s okay when he patronizes you, eh? — Well, I can now reveal that I’m just one of Mike’s personalities, which pops out from his inner turmoil over corporatist positions. (No, you aren’t. — YES I AM!) Ahem. — Anyway, Mike’s presently dominant personality is slowly coming round to my Populist views and other opinions; he’ll soon be calling you ankle-biters…]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Want to stop the next Edward Snowden?

For the NSA to function as it is intended to, it needs people that want/try to push that line in order to make sure it’s doing everything it can to complete it’s mission.

However, the problem is when there is no oversight to control these people/ideas; when there is no accountability to keep them in line; when there is no responsibility to the stakeholders, but only to completing the mission…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Want to stop the next Edward Snowden?

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men.”

Those in charge of the NSA can’t be reached. So they get Snowden, Elsberg, and the like. Repeatedly.

Anonymous Coward says:

had Congress used their brains previously, we wouldn’t be in this situation now! it’s the total lack of desire to do anything that remotely looks like doing what is required, what is needed to be done to protect the people from those who want to just do what they like. this guy needs to be striped of command and hung out to dry!

Anonymous Coward says:

What he's really saying...

?At present, we are not resourced to conduct the requested review within the requested timeframe,? wrote McCullough, before adding he and other agency inspectors general are weighing now whether they can combine forces on a larger probe.

Translation: The programs and abuses you talking about are so vast and widespread that we couldn’t possibly investigate them thoroughly and report back on all of them by the end of the year. We don’t have anywhere close to $10 billion budget, huge datacenters with racks of supercomputers, and legions of government personnel and private contractors at our disposal like they do. You would be much more efficient just taking the approach of the Amash amendment and simply starting to slash their funding for this stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not really concerned about our collecting the data then abusing it against our own citizens, although I suppose that could happen. IMHO, there’s way too much of it for any one organization to make sense of in this century.

No, my main concern is that we will collect and store all of this neat stuff, then our “friends” overseas, in Asia and Eastern Europe, who have been cashing in in a small way, would discover the way into the main treasure. The result of that would be catastrophic.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not really concerned about our collecting the data then abusing it against our own citizens, although I suppose that could happen

Why aren’t you concerned? Given that pretty much every time they’ve done such domestic spying in the past it has been used to abuse citizens, why do you think it might be different this time?

Anonymous Coward says:

Congress just says, “This is your budget funds you have to work with this year”. They don’t tell the NSA how it will actually spend it unless it is earmarked.

What this little bit is covering up is that oversight so paraded by the NSA has gotten the short end of the budget simply because it wasn’t so important to report to anyone and tell the absolute truth. Constructing facilities is more important that reporting screw ups. So you wind up after years with not having enough staff to do the job the NSA doesn’t want them to do.

Congress has time and again proved this method works to stifle what they don’t want to hear. Make a law saying this agency is in charge of some report and then remove the funding so it doesn’t have enough to do the job and the problem is over.

Since congress and the people are asking questions, the weak spot has been revealed in this little scheme. There is not enough people to do the job as intended.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think they ever removed funding from the Inspector General, it’s just that they never had the funding (and “resources” doesn’t necessarily mean funding as it could also mean manpower) in the first place to complete a task like this because…

1. The NSA isn’t exactly known for being overly cooperative with people asking questions, even in government. (see. Alexander and Clapper’s responses to questions before Congress).

2. The NSA is SO big and the programs are SO vast that doing a thorough investigation of all of it a month and a half is likely to be a daunting and somewhat unreasonable task for any entity to complete.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

We really did go communist… Mao said authority comes out of the end of a gun…. or something similar. Clinton talked about the other government he didn’t control and I now honestly believe he did not have sexual relations with that woman. He MAY have had relations with someone else, the beauracracy killed her to keep it quiet and then the other side forced lewinsky to take the role of office fling so they could have their show trial. Our gov os SERIOUSLY messed up.

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