We've written plenty of times about the dangers of Executive Order 12333
, which is the Presidential order signed by Ronald Reagan that gives the NSA tremendously broad powers of surveillance, so long as the work is done overseas. And as long as information is collected overseas, it is used to spy on many Americans. Senators Wyden and Udall have implied
that Executive Order 12333 enables the CIA to get around prohibitions on spying on Americans, and just last week a (recent) former top State Department Official, John Napier Tye, revealed
that the real surveillance powers happen under Executive Order 12333 -- and the other programs we've all been debating (Section 702 and Section 215) are merely used to "backfill" what can't be collected under EO12333.
The Washington Post has now revealed that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is turning its attention to EO 12333
-- which is important. Unlike Sections 215 and 702, Congress doesn't (currently) have any oversight over activities done under EO 12333. Basically, there is no oversight at all. The Congressional intelligence committees have flat out admitted that they receive no reports concerning the kind of surveillance done under that authority, as it's not under their mandate. The Washington Post has also published a graphic from the Snowden files, that highlights how EO 12333 is the main surveillance program, and everything else is just the exception. It's a "decision tree" where the focus is on using EO 12333 for as much as possible and only resorting to other programs if absolutely forced to:
It will be interesting to see what the PCLOB is allowed to learn, and then what it's able to do in response. The PCLOB did a fantastic report
slamming the (il)legality and (un)constitutionality of Section 215, but was unfortunately weak
in its analysis of the Section 702 program. One hopes that the level of analysis given to EO 12333 will be similar to the former, rather than the latter.