Senate Confirms Former FBI Lawyer For Judgeship, Despite Long Record Of Papering Over Abusive Surveillance Tactics

from the this-vetting-process-seems-even-weaker-than-the-NSA's dept

The overreach of intelligence agencies has generated tons of news and commentary. So much, in fact, that even our normally gridlocked representatives have been propelled into action. More than 20 pieces of legislation are currently in the works, aimed at rolling back the abuses of intelligence agencies and the expanded PATRIOT Act.

With so much attention being paid to the fact that agencies like the NSA and the FBI trampled all over Americans' civil liberties, you'd think that a few of our Senators might have found former FBI counsel Valerie Caproni's oversight of a decade's worth of abusive tactics by the FBI to be a bit problematic. In the current climate, one would have expected the Senate to shoot down her nomination for a seat as a judge on the Southern District Court of New York -- especially considering the court's history as the go-to venue for terrorist-related cases.

But no, her nomination sailed through 73-24, thus placing another judge aligned with the administration's "see no evil [in our intelligence agencies]" viewpoint. If you're bringing a suit against any number of overreaching government agencies for violation of your rights, you'd better hope your case gets assigned elsewhere.

Here's the vote breakdown.


Worth noting: there's pretty much a partisan split on the vote. Only one of the 24 "nays" was a Democrat -- something not too surprising considering she was the administration's nominee. Some Republicans just enjoy voting against Obama, no matter what's at stake. What's more surprising is some of the names that voted for Caproni, including most of the sponsors of a bill aimed at ending the secret legal interpretation that makes it legal for the NSA to sweep up huge amounts of phone data.

Of the bill's seven sponsors and co-sponsors (Merkley, Leahy, Heller, Begich, Franken, Tester and Wyden), only Merkley and Heller voted against the former FBI lawyer. All of these sponsors should have voted down the nomination, if for no other reason than maintaining a consistent tone on surveillance overreach. Caproni acting as head counsel for the FBI during a near-decade-long run where the agency completely dismantled the legal framework surrounding requests for phone records, starting with free-flowing National Security Letters before steadily devolving to the point agents were issuing requests via Post-It notes or simply calling up service providers and asking them to send over the requested records.

For senators concerned the NSA is abusing its power to collect phone data, they certainly don't seem too concerned about placing someone who defended even worse behavior in her own agency in the position to create damaging precedent.

Maybe Caproni had some redeeming qualities that haven't made it to the public eye quite yet or maybe they're more convinced than I am that she'll recuse herself from cases dealing with untargeted data collection, the FBI or anything conceivably related. Or maybe this is exactly what it looks like -- a vote along party lines intended to mark something, anything off the "To Do" list and allow the reps to move on to more pressing matters, like their own legislation.

No matter what the excuse, Caproni's new position is a win for intelligence agencies and the administration that loves them.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    Republicans

    'Only one of the 24 "nays" was a Democrat -- something not too surprising considering she was the administration's nominee. Some Republicans just enjoy voting against Obama, no matter what's at stake.'

    I hope this is an attempt at humor to the effect of saying that Democrats just enjoy voting for Obama no matter what's at stake.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    RyanNerd (profile), Sep 10th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    RyanNerd (profile), Sep 10th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Republicans

    Republicans/Democrats (No difference) two sides to the same coin.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Republicans

    I agree. The kinds of people who campaign for office are precisely the people you don't want in office.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Republicans

    Senators rarely vote against judges nominated by their own party.

    There was even a news story a few years ago when a Democrat from New Jersey became the first democrat after several years of Obama in office to oppose one of Obama's judge nominees. The judge he voted against had previously investigated that same senator on possible corruption charges and came up empty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 12:41pm

    Congress critters are sheep like everybody else, somebody is choosing those people to put in place, somebody or something is seeking out people with very specific profiles to put in those places and it certainly is not the sheep doing it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    Maybe we whould map public servants to see what they did or not do in their lifes and put it in a big honking graph to everybody to see it.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Loki, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 1:04pm

    What's more surprising is some of the names that voted for Caproni, including most of the sponsors of a bill aimed at ending the secret legal interpretation that makes it legal for the NSA to sweep up huge amounts of phone data.

    Why would anyone who pays even rudimentary attention to politics find this even remotely surprising?

    Despite the protests, saber rattling, or attempts to "roll back" excessive overreach (at least until the heat is off) the repeated actions (which speak far louder than their words)of these people has shown time and time again they are entirely complicit, and if truly ignorant of abuses are only so intentionally and deliberately.

    The fact that they are so brazen, in even in the face of current scrutiny, should be more than enough evidence to show where their real loyalties lies. As should the fact that while the public is so focused on this topic, TPP and other treaties (that essentially make world governments increasingly subservient to corporate interests) continue unhampered by the sort of backlash that accompanied SOPA, and afterwards ACTA (which at that point was already a done deal for intents and purposes). Not to mention the fact that attempts are being made to quietly resurrect SOPA while attention is diverted elsewhere.

    No, this confirmation, while appalling, does not surprise me in the slightest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

    of course it did! it gives Senators yet another scape goat when things go shit shaped! the last person they would even consider is one that is honest and true. he/she wouldn't be easy to convert to 'dark side'

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 2:57pm

    Wyden & Udall vote YES???? Doesn't make sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 3:11pm

    Surprising

    I thought John Conyers had more juice.

    You know who John Conyers is—the representative from Michigan—ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

    I tell you, I don't always agree with that man.   In fact, sometimes he just makes me angry.   He can be so wrong at times, on some issues.   But I tell you…   or maybe I can't even tell you…   I have more respect for Mr Conyers than you can possibly imagine. I value his opinion, right or wrong as it may be.   I value that man's opinion.

    When John Conyers tells me that someone ought to be fired from a high-ranking position in the federal government, I think that deserves to be taken seriously.   It should be taken seriously.   You don't say things like that speaking through your hat.   You just don't.

    Well.

    Anyhow.

    I thought John Conyers had more juice than that.   Really.   More juice than it looks like he does after all.

    Washed-up old fool.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Violynne (profile), Sep 10th, 2013 @ 3:16pm

    I sit stunned Ron Wyden voted "Yea".

    Stunned.

     

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  13.  
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    Rekrul, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 3:45pm

    Was there ever any doubt that she would be confirmed? The US government is rotten to the core. If it wasn't for the public attention the leaks have caused, none (well, almost none) would have lifted a finger to do anything about the NSA, even if you had dumped that same information in their laps.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    Typical politicians. Can't trust a one of them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 3:54pm

    "...Despite Long Record Of Papering Over Abusive Surveillance Tactics"
    Should read:
    "...BECAUSE OF Long Record Of Papering Over Abusive Surveillance Tactics"

    FTFY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 4:55pm

    Looks like absolute corruption to me. I'm deeply disappointed in Wyden's 'yea' vote. Perhaps he's not the caliber of person I thought him to be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Pragmatic, Sep 11th, 2013 @ 6:03am

    Re:

    Perhaps he didn't know about her history. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 11th, 2013 @ 3:15pm

    He voted for her without knowing her history? Are the politicians as dumb as the people who elect them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 11th, 2013 @ 3:16pm

    Re:

    That was in reply to Pragmatic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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