After Spending Time As Surveillance Subjects, Intelligence Oversight Committee Suddenly Performing Some Oversight

from the we'll-get-to-the-bottom-of-this-thing-that-was-only-supposed-to-happen-to-ot dept

Once again, it appears the only way to make our nation's intelligence oversight committees care about surveillance is to include them in the "fun."

Fervent surveillance apologist Dianne Feinstein had zero fucks to give about the steady stream of leaks until it became apparent that the CIA was spying on her staffers while they put together the Torture Report. Likewise, many members of the House Intelligence Committee couldn't be bothered to care much about domestic surveillance until they, too, were "inadvertently" included in the NSA's dragnet.

Suddenly, it's time to start caring about the NSA's broad powers.

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee will consider whether new safeguards are needed for handling communications intercepted by the National Security Agency that involve U.S. lawmakers or other Americans, the top Democrat on the panel said on Wednesday.
Yes, these legislators are unhappy their phone calls with foreign officials might have been collected on the regular by the nation's foremost interceptor of communications. And, in what is certainly viewed as largesse by this committee, the proposed rules (whatever they are) will be extended to non-elected Americans.

The Office of the Director of the National Intelligence further clarified the proposed changes discussed during the closed-door briefing by declining to comment on the "classified" proceedings.

One thing is clear, though. Changes will be happening, presumably to further protect the content of legislators' phone calls from the NSA, or at the very least, toughen up minimization procedures. The official statement from the Committee appends "all Americans" after an ellipsis ("explore whether any additional safeguards are necessary when it comes to incidental collection—not only for members of Congress... but for all Americans") so the smart money is on trickle-down surveillance protection. Presumably, we'll all be apprised of any additional protections on a need-to-know basis.

Heading up this new-found enthusiasm for small-batch surveillance reform is Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. His previous efforts on behalf of Americans and their civil liberties include:
Attempting to prevent the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board from doing its job; and

Pushing a clean reauthorization of Section 215 -- an effort he only dropped because he couldn't rustle up enough support.
So, that's the champion fighting against abusive spying and he's seemingly only interested because his stuff might have gotten caught in the dragnet.

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Filed Under: congress, house intelligence committee, nsa, oversight, surveillance


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  1. icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), 9 Jan 2016 @ 9:22am

    What I find astounding is that people, even the apologists like Fienstien, really don't understand the logic of these bulk collections. For instance, the AT & T taps take everything. There is no possibility of not taking communications involving senators, privileged legal communications, or anything other prohibited communications. It is ALL. The only way the NSA could avoid any of these is to collect none of them in bulk. It's largely the same story for minimisation. You actually need to know it's priveledged to minimise it, and in most cases, they never get that far. No amount of legislation will change that logic. The NSA crossed the rubicon quite some time ago, and as we have seen, they aren't going back.

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