Mike Rogers: You Can't Have Your Privacy Violated If You Don't Know About It
from the say-what-now? dept
We already wrote a bit about yesterday's House Intelligence Committee hearing concerning NSA surveillance. There were two sections to it: the first three hours were the top government spooks and lawmakers, and then the last half an hour or so involved three pundits outside of government (though with former government credentials). At the very very end of that, there was an absolutely incredible exchange between Intel Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers and law professor Stephen Vladeck (the only panelist the entire day who expressed concerns about what the NSA was doing). You have to watch the exchange to believe it, but it ends with Rogers insisting that "you can't have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated, right?" Vladeck immediately disagreed and Rogers seemed to find it astounding that anyone could agree, suggesting that it would upend the law. Watch the exchange:
If you don't watch the video, Rogers basically asks all three panelists if they think it's okay to do the kind of business records search that's currently done, and the two intelligence community apologists on the panel immediately agree. Vladeck suggests that there are caveats, and Rogers attacks him for equivocating, misattributing a quote about "give me a one-armed economist" (it was Harry Truman, but Rogers gives credit to Ronald Reagan). Vladeck again points out that the specifics matter, and notes that it's possible to agree with the concept of a program, but not the implementation of the program -- using the death penalty as a comparison. Rogers gets upset at this (bizarrely appearing to totally not comprehend the point Vladeck is making) and then finally Vladeck again points out that the process matters, and it's ridiculous to answer a substantive question about whether the concept makes sense without discussing the process, leading to the following, in which Rogers suggests there are no process questions because no one has complained:
Rogers: I would argue the fact that we haven't had any complaints come forward with any specificity arguing that their privacy has been violated, clearly indicates, in ten years, clearly indicates that something must be doing right. Somebody must be doing something exactly right.
Vladeck: But who would be complaining?
Rogers: Somebody who's privacy was violated. You can't have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated.
Vladeck: I disagree with that. If a tree falls in the forest, it makes a noise whether you're there to see it or not.
Rogers (astounded): Well that's a new interesting standard in the law. We're going to have this conversation... but we're going to have wine, because that's going to get a lot more interesting...
This is kind of astounding. According to Mike Rogers, you can apparently violate his privacy, so long as he doesn't know about it. How is it that such a person is supposedly in charge of oversight of the intelligence community? He honestly believes that as long as the NSA spies on people privately, their privacy isn't violated?