Pentagon's Watchdog In Charge Of NSA Oversight Admits He Was 'Not Aware' Of NSA's Bulk Data Collection

from the oversight! dept

We hear it over and over again from defenders of the NSA: the programs, such as the bulk collection of call metadata are perfectly legal in part because of oversight from "all three branches" of government. Of course, that's long since been debunked (especially seeing that all three branches have also demanded reforms to the very same programs). But one of the key points is that this "oversight" is usually not actually oversight at all, because the all important details are obfuscated or otherwise totally hidden from the overseers. And while this has been covered in fairly great detail about the lack of real oversight from Congress and the courts, what about the executive branch?

Well, wonder no more. The main guy in charge of supposedly "overseeing" the NSA's efforts and making sure that they're within the law (even if right up to the edges of it) is the Defense Department's Inspector General (currently Anthony C. Thomas), and he's just admitted that had no idea that the NSA was collecting bulk metadata on a huge swath of phone calls inside the US. According to a report by Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian:
“From my own personal knowledge, those programs, in and of themselves, I was not personally aware,” Thomas said.
He also admitted that the DOD isn't currently, nor does it have any plans to investigate the NSA's bulk surveillance efforts. Basically, he just leaves that up to the NSA's own Inspector General:
“If the NSA IG is looking into something and we feel that their reporting, their investigation is ongoing, we’ll wait to see what they find or what they don’t find, and that may dictate something that we may do. In the course of a planning process, we may get a hotline [call], or we may get some complaint that may dictate an action that we may or not take,” Thomas said.

Specifically on bulk NSA surveillance, Thomas said he was “waiting to see the information that the NSA IG brings forward with the investigations that are going on, and what we often do not want to do is conflict.”
So, this guy, who is in charge of the Pentagon's oversight of the NSA is basically taking a hands off approach to the NSA issue, letting them work out their own solution to what has been declared illegal and unconstitutional activities by two separate executive branch review panels. That doesn't inspire confidence. In fact, it inspires something entirely different: cynicism and a general distrust in government. For a government that keeps saying that the NSA has to rebuild "trust" with the American public, you'd think that it would start by actually having the people who have the mandate for oversight actually do something.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:49pm

    A 'hands off' approach?

    Um, no, that goes just a titch farther than that, his action is more like putting on a blindfold, covering his ears and screaming 'I CAN'T HEAR YOU!' as loud as he can until the problem goes away.

    Also, gotta love how the high-court/low-court 'justice' system is popping it's head up yet again, when a regular person is accused of a crime, they would be the absolute last person who would be tasked with investigating their actions, yet somehow having the IG of the NSA investigate the NSA is considered a reasonable course of action to him.

    Certainly makes plain just much interest he has in actually knowing what they're up to.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

    I keep thinking it is long overdue for a new "Church" committee to become prominent. Nothing short of that is going to restore trust.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:56pm

    I think this part says it all:

    "may dictate an action that we may or not take"

    I think that speaks volumes... if it dictates and action, it's your job to take it!

    This little caveat right here says: "We may encounter a serious problem that needs to be remedied, but we may or may not do anything to resolve it."

    IOW: Yeah, we don't give a shit, sorry.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 3:58pm

    Its a hard job, someone else will do it for me.
    He's so ready to run for Congress, writing bills is hard I'll let the lobbyists do it for me...

     

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

  5.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 4:11pm

    Re:

    I keep thinking it is long overdue for a new "Church" committee to become prominent. Nothing short of that is going to restore trust.

    The Church Committee became the Senate Select Committee On Intelligence, better known as the Senate Intelligence Committee who has been covering for the NSA for ages. So, yes, a new Church Committee would be great, but it's important to not forget how the last one eventually got co-opted.

     

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

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re:

    still the same old usual brain dead drek I see from you Mansick !!!

    Nice to see you stuck so deeply in your own little rut of hatred. Damn shame that after 16 years no one cares what you say.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    zip, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    Considering how the NSA famously --and illegally-- hot-tapped AT&T's entire telecommunication structure just a few years before, Anthony C. Thomas, the DOD's Inspector General, was obviously lying through his teeth, Clapper-like, when he implied that he never knew (and presumably never suspected) anything whatsoever about the NSA's immense program of bulk data collection ... assuming, of course, that he is not a complete idiot.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Kronomex, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 10:57pm

    What a bullshit excuse!

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 12:26am

    "...Thomas said he was “waiting to see the information that the NSA IG brings forward with the investigations that are going on, and what we often do not want to do is conflict.”"

    So he is waiting to see what kind of dirt they dig up on him and he has time to evaluate the threat?

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 7:06am

    "From my own personal knowledge.."

    So that would be as opposed to his professional or official knowledge?

    Rule #1: Parse everything from these weasels closely.
    Rule #2: Go to Rule #1
    Rule #3: Only Rules 1 and 2 exist.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Dan G Difino, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Oh Glory Be

    The day is coming when the good people of this earth will no longer have to deal with these assnine forces and maybe I won't be here to see it, but THANK GOD THE DAY IS COMING.

     

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

  12.  
    icon
    GEMont (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    "For a government that keeps saying that the NSA has to rebuild "trust" with the American public, you'd think that it would start by actually having the people who have the mandate for oversight actually do something."

    But..... they are actually doing something!!!
    They are using Over Sight.

    You or I would call it obfuscating, or lying.

    But to the Tri-Letter Agencies of the US Fed, this IS Over Sight.

    Its a process of putting numerous specially placed people between the public and the agencies secrets, allowing them to force the public to perform numerous, pointless and absurd feats of acrobatics and follow blind alleys and dead ends, costing them time and money. The whole process of Over Sight is designed to keep the public from learning anything of value.

    You just have to read your Federal Obfuscation Manual to see that black is white, up is down and back is forth when it comes to these agencies' interpretation of the english language, when dealing with the people they call the Adversary.

    To the NSA, FOIA stands for Fuck Over Inquisitive Adversaries

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 1:54pm

    I think this was intentional...
    Step 1: Hire oversight for top secret project. Make sure overseer's security clearance is virtually nonexistent.
    Step 2: Give overseer no information because his security clearance is too low.
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Spy unrestricted on the American public, profit!

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    Re:

    "They are using Over Sight"

    Literally. Anthony Thomas just said (paraphrasing) "it was an oversight."

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    GEMont (profile), Mar 19th, 2014 @ 4:53pm

    Re:

    Personally, I really wish it was that simple.

    Rant:

    What you have here however are some of the results of a complete conquest of the USA by multinational and American corporations and their billionaire leaders.

    They are not in the least concerned about what the public thinks, only in what the public knows and what the public can do about things.

    If you study the reign of the German fascist corporations in Germany in WW2, you will see that all of their plans of world domination that failed then because of lack of proper technology, have been completely realized today in America.

    The American Federal Government is little more now than the PR department of the Fascist Association of Corporations that takes its cues directly from the plans of the Fascists that ran Germany in WW2.

    Fascism is not a government form.
    It is a business model.

    As with any Capitalist business organization, it fosters a form of belief that considers the gathering of wealth through any means possible to be the ultimate purpose of mankind.

    To a fascist, slavery and propaganda are merely perfectly reasonable methods of making greater wealth. Civilization is seen as the greatest manufacturer and storage facility of slaves, and propaganda is the best method of controlling those slaves.

    The heads of these corporations own your media, your federal agencies, your police and your communications networks.

    They own you.

    There is no action that they consider immoral, or illegal, as long as it creates profit or prevents the loss of their income. Murder, assassination, deceit, theft, blackmail, harassment, torture, false-flag operations, cointelpro, manufacturing enemies of the state, are simply means to an end, and business as usual for these people.

    Some of the German Fascist dreams have already been realized. They have already poisoned your food supply with penetrating oil, heavy metals and genetically modified crops, to make you stupid and weak from disease and create a next generation of drug addled morons perfect for military duty.

    They are about to take America to war again, as that is the best way to turn the public eye away from their exposed blackmail agencies and get rid of citizen dissenters at the same time.

    While it is unlikely that the American Public can do anything to stop this process, the utter lack of awareness - the refusal to believe what is right in front of their eyes simply because they want the American Dream to remain intact in their own minds - gives these fascists greater and greater control each year.

    The CIA/FBI/NSA will never admit to wrong-doing, because in the minds of those participating in the conquest of America, they are indeed doing no wrong. They will however, use every means at their disposal to remain in power and in control, even if it means slaughtering every last man, woman and child in America.

    They revel in the knowledge that the American Public could never believe a word of this, and that the GenPub will kill to remain ignorant of the very existence of their conquerors.

    Such is life.
    Follow the dinosaurs.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Failed history, did you? All you can do is ad hom and hope no one calls you on your bullshit? You're a Holocaust Denier, aren't you?

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    mat, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 1:31am

    charge

    commrnt on charge

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Techdirt Reading List
Advertisement
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Support Techdirt - Get Great Stuff!

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.