New House Intelligence Boss Doesn't See The Need For Any Surveillance Reform

from the oversight! dept

Mario Trujillo, over at The Hill, has highlighted how the incoming House Intelligence Committee boss, Devin Nunes, doesn’t believe any surveillance reform is necessary, based largely on an opinion piece he wrote back in July entitled “don’t shackle the NSA now.”

The article is the typical FUD from surveillance state supporters, talking about terror threats and ISIS up front to keep you scared, followed by insults directed at Ed Snowden, and finishing off with a “we need this information to keep us safe” conclusion. Straight out of the classic surveillance state apologists’ handbook. The attack on whistleblowing by Snowden is particularly ridiculous:

But for the last year, various groups have sought to curtail our intelligence activities based on selectively presented, maliciously leaked documents about anti-terror programs that are widely misunderstood and whose effects have been wildly exaggerated.

These programs, which are subject to multiple levels of oversight by all three branches of government, have been crucial in stopping dozens of terror attacks, including plots against the New York Stock Exchange and the New York City subway system.

First of all, the groups have actually been looking to protect Americans’ Constitutional rights and freedoms. And, the job of the head of the Intelligence Committee is supposed to be to protect those rights — not to defend the NSA. But Nunes appears to see himself in the mode of his predecessor, Mike Rogers, who always viewed his key job as defending the NSA, rather than overseeing it. Second, the “oversight” claims have all been shown to be exaggerated in the past — and all three branches of government have also presented evidence of both widespread abuse and that these programs were illegal and/or unconstitutional.

Finally, the programs have not been shown to be crucial in stopping terror attacks, and each of the claims made saying that have been largely debunked — including the bomb plots Nunes names (which were debunked within days of first being claimed).

Shouldn’t we be concerned that the guy in charge of “oversight” of the NSA is spreading debunked arguments in favor of the NSA spying and unconstitutional privacy violations? Shouldn’t that disqualify him from the job?

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Comments on “New House Intelligence Boss Doesn't See The Need For Any Surveillance Reform”

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19 Comments
Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

…stopping dozens of terror attacks, including plots against the New York Stock Exchange

OK, this goes right alongside yesterday’s “don’t criminalize Justin Bieber” in the “you might want to rethink your examples” section. If terrorists struck Wall Street and managed to do what the DOJ has never had the guts to do since 2007–actually impose some serious consequences on the crooks that destroyed our economy and laughed all the way to the bank–would that really be a bad thing?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If it only affected the guilty parties? I could certainly see the opportunity for a good deal of schadenfreude in a situation like that.

However, something like that would affect a hell of a lot more than just them, and the bankers would be back on their feet in a week or two tops, whereas everyone else would be suffering for a lot longer than that.

So no, as enjoyable as it would be for those that have caused such suffering due to their greed to get a little taste of suffering themselves, the total cost would be too high.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

However, something like that would affect a hell of a lot more than just them …

You mis-read what he wrote:

actually impose some serious consequences on the crooks that destroyed our economy and laughed all the way to the bank …

That reads as a targetted attack. No flying planes into buildings, no IEDs. Just guilty Banksters in the crosshairs. Surgical, not willy nilly mayhem. Since our justice system has proved it’s impotent against such threats, I’d be hard pressed not to cheer on such an effort. I suspect a lot of people would feel the same.

I’ve never been a fan of that Wall St. Ponzi game and now that institutional investors and computers shaving pennies on millisecond trading spreads are the special of the day, it’s tough to care about anyone who wants to play in that game. What does the stock market actually do for civilization anyway, other than serve as a somewhat dynamic parking spot for cash? Does it still do what we want it to do (connect investors to potentially profitable enterprises)?

No, I’m not advocating. It’d make a great Hollywood plot though.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Since our justice system has proved it’s impotent against such threats, I’d be hard pressed not to cheer on such an effort. I suspect a lot of people would feel the same.”

And here we wee the real danger that is presented by our broken criminal justice system. It leads to vigilantism. Vigilantism is the worst possible outcome, as once you’re there, then justice (and therefore freedom) becomes literally impossible.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Vigilantism is the worst possible outcome …

I believe you just defamed Sir Robin of Locksley. The Sheriff of Nottingham approves.

The trick is knowing if or when the cure is worse than the disease. I don’t doubt that some people may be so offended by LeRoy’s cluelessness that she ought to be getting out of the public eye soon. She’s complicit with placing children, teachers, and schools needlessly in danger at the hands of heavily armed incompetents. Some percentage of the population aren’t going to accept that.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Well, I happen to think that Robin Hood was an anti-hero, not a good guy, so in your example I half agree: Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham were both bad guys.

However, when I say “worst possible outcome,” I don’t mean that it is never justified. Only that if it is then we’ve seen a total breakdown of society.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Shouldn’t we be concerned that the guy in charge of “oversight” of the NSA is spreading debunked arguments in favor of the NSA spying and unconstitutional privacy violations? Shouldn’t that disqualify him from the job?

Your mistaken assumption is that he was nominated for the position with the intent to provide a check on the NSA. He wasn’t. Quite clearly he was put in place to cover for the NSA and head off any more ‘inconvenient’ oversight that may have otherwise occurred.

Anonymous Coward says:

So far all this stage theater security stuff has resulted in no meaningful captures of terrorists. It didn’t stop the Boston bombing and it didn’t stop 9/11 even though a lot of the permissive spying stuff was already in place. There’s nothing to point to saying that all this effort, expense, and expansion is actually doing anything beyond spying domestically because they can. It does leave open the whys of this spying since there are no real meaningful results, unless of course the data is being used to blackmail all the authoritarian figures from local judges and cops all the way to the top.

We have tons of examples of the justice side using this to go completely overboard. Confiscation of property before determining if guilty, the stonewalling to prevent embarrassing exposure of wrong doing (CIA report anyone?), the refusal to hold Clapper to responsibility for perjury, refusal to hold Holder in responsibility for ignoring congressional subpena, refusal to hold the IRS responsible for it’s methods of political aggressiveness; geeze those are only the ones I thought of as typing. Heaven help we should actually research to turn up others.

The penchant for the FBI to create terrorists domestically to say it’s active and effective? Please that ranks on the same scale with the local cop forces getting their funding from the drug war and terrorism programs, and then turning around and using confiscation for funding.

Face it, government has derailed to being a responsible party and that is why we’ve went from beacon of the free to 20ᵀᴴ globally ranked as a free people. This article is a poster child for just why that is.

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