Pentagon's Watchdog In Charge Of NSA Oversight Admits He Was 'Not Aware' Of NSA's Bulk Data Collection
from the oversight! dept
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.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.
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.”