Senator Ron Wyden Says White House Is Required By Law To Reveal Details Behind Yahoo Scanning

from the where's-my-popcorn? dept

So, one of the things in the USA Freedom Act is a provision requiring that the White House declassify any "novel interpretations" of the law in ordering surveillance. This was to avoid the situations, such as under the Section 215 program, where the intelligence community reads words to mean things differently than anyone else would read them. Now, given what we've learned so far about the Yahoo email scanning case and the fact that it clearly goes beyond what people thought the law enabled, it seems clear that there's some interpretation somewhere that's "novel."

And that means that the White House should declassify the reasoning. Now Senator Ron Wyden is asking them to do exactly that:
“Recent reports of a mass-email scanning program have alleged that federal law is being interpreted in ways that many Americans would find surprising and troubling,” Wyden said. “The USA Freedom Act requires the executive branch to declassify Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions that involve novel interpretations of laws or the Constitution and I certainly expect the Executive Branch to follow this law.”
This is, obviously, something of a warning shot to the administration. Chances are they'll ignore this, but that could turn into a pretty serious strategic mistake. As we've been saying since it first came out, James Clapper should explain what's happening, because the longer they stay silent, the worse this looks.

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  • identicon
    ashton, 7 Oct 2016 @ 3:05pm

    Rule of Law is long gone

    ,,,yeah, lame duck Obama is really really worried about accusations of unusual interpretations of law (Not!)

    And we already know that next President Hillary considers herself above the law.

    The problem is that the entire federal government feels free to ignore the law at their whim.

    Wyden can't even convince his Senate colleagues to act on this specific item. This issue is will go nowhere.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 7 Oct 2016 @ 3:14pm

      Re: Rule of Law is long gone

      You...know the election's not for another month, right?

      That aside, you've got a point. I greatly appreciate that Wyden's out there fighting the good fight, but sadly his attempts to rein in the executive branch on surveillance, drones, etc. don't tend to get much traction from either party.

      I expect he and Feingold will have a lot to talk about come January, though.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2016 @ 3:46pm

      Re: Rule of Law is long gone

      You act as though this is a recent occurrence.

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

      • icon
        DannyB (profile), 8 Oct 2016 @ 7:32am

        Re: Re: Rule of Law is long gone

        The length of time the government has ignored the law doesn't make it any less criminal.

        "But, your honor! I've been speeding on that road for many years! So I shouldn't have to pay a fine."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2016 @ 5:29am

      Re: Rule of Law is long gone

      "The problem is that the entire federal government feels free to ignore the law at their whim."

      As do many in the 1%. They feel they are above the law that everyone else must adhere to .. because, reasons.

      Some feel entitled to certain perks they have become accustomed to and are offended when others attempt to point out it out, and enraged when others attempt to correct the situation

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2016 @ 3:14pm

    If they're forced to say something they can just lie. If they're caught lying they can just lie some more. It's not like there's any trust left to be damaged. Or any way to hold them accountable.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2016 @ 5:22pm

      Re:

      "If they're forced to say something they can just lie. If they're caught lying they can just lie some more."

      Everyone at or above GS-12 is hereby granted a blanket pardon.

      Happy Holidays!

      -- President Hussein Obama, 12/25/2016

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

  • identicon
    David, 7 Oct 2016 @ 3:20pm

    Oh come on, seriously?

    This is, obviously, something of a warning shot to the administration. Chances are they'll ignore this, but that could turn into a pretty serious strategic mistake. As we've been saying since it first came out, James Clapper should explain what's happening, because the longer they stay silent, the worse this looks.

    "strategic mistake"? Since when have there been any consequences for intelligence officers dragging their feet and/or completely ignoring Congress and laws? There aren't even consequences for perjury and lies upon lies upon lies that are uncovered month after month with ever-changing stories. No reprimands have ever been given.

    So why would it be a "strategic mistake" to ignore Wyden? What is he going to do? Throw a tantrum? So what.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Whatever, 7 Oct 2016 @ 6:10pm

    Suck Wyden's cock a little harder, won't you Masnick? Criminals like Snowden are making this country weaker every day, and you pirates keep cheering from the sidelines. Disgusting.

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 7 Oct 2016 @ 6:49pm

    The white house is required to do a lot of things by law. From what I have seen they pick and choose what laws to follow what laws to break. Or in some cases what laws to change to make their illegal actions retroactively legal.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Oct 2016 @ 4:26am

    It isn't like Congress will do anything about it.
    They passed a bill that decimates protection our people had overseas, didn't read it until after it passed, and have yet to start reaping what they have sown... the reason?
    Because the bill mentioned 9/11 Families and no one wanted to vote against them.
    Literally the bill could have called for euthanizing the 10 oldest members of Congress to make sure it kept up with society, and as long as it mentioned the 9/11 families they would have passed it.

    Congress will refuse to touch this because they have made it so making any challenge to the spread of big brother means you are a terrorist lover who hates America. They've sold out the people they are supposed to represent, while chopping away at the foundation of the nation.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2016 @ 4:55am

      Re:

      I know it's a loaded thing to say, but the USA is well on the road to becoming a dictatorship.

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

      • identicon
        David, 8 Oct 2016 @ 7:54am

        Re: Re:

        Uh, no? A dictatorship is not defined by the process of procuring a ruler but by the powers he wields. Dictators of the Roman Republic were voted into power and served a limited time.

        The power to order people to be killed bystepping law and due process and separation of powers is outside of that a leader of a republic may wield without the powers of dictatorship.

        The U.S.A. is not "well on the road to becoming a dictatorship", it _is_ a dictatorship due to the amount of executive powers outside of judicial control granted to its president and the U.S. equivalents of SS and SA. And stuff like unilateral retroactive pardons for people violating human rights and the U.S. constitution also have no place in a republic.

        That president and administration choose to follow the law when it's convenient is cute but rather meaningless.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2016 @ 6:57am

    Mommy, what's a law?

    (child, tugging at mother's dress.)

    I don't know, Sheepy.

    I think there used to be laws and voting and stuff before the Ivies took over and eliminated evil from the world.

    Now that everyone has brain chips, we just don't need laws anymore. If anyone thinks bad thoughts, the brain chip floods our brains with drugs to make us feel so good the bad thoughts just go away.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2016 @ 1:27pm

    Do you dummies really think the president is behind all this crap that is going on with the govt? Do you really think Trump/Clinton will make a difference? Congress passes laws. Presidents come and go. The president is just a distraction for dummies to bitch about, when in fact congress is what you should be upset with. Obamacare? Written by congress. Patriot act? Written by congress. Guantanamo? Oh yeah, Obama wanted to get rid of it, but yet it is still open.

    Wake up, you don't even know who your real enemy is.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 10 Oct 2016 @ 4:40pm

      Re:

      It's great that you paid attention in fourth-grade social studies, but if you think the President is just an ineffectual figurehead then you really aren't familiar with the past 150 years or so of US history.

      Yes, the PATRIOT Act was written by Congress. And it grants power to the executive branch. The President, AG, FBI, CIA, NSA, et al have tremendous leeway, which was conferred onto them by Congress.

      (Not for nothin', the third branch of government, the judicial branch, has not put much of a check on that executive power.)

      You're correct that Obama has been unable to close Gitmo in the face of congressional resistance. You're also correct that, in terms of warrantless domestic surveillance, Clinton or Trump is likely to continue the policies of Bush and Obama.

      But that's not because the President is powerless to stop these surveillance programs. That's foolish. The President is in charge of the surveillance apparatus.

      And in this particular instance, a Senator is trying to exercise oversight of the President on that very issue.

      Because, you see, "Congress" isn't some kind of monolithic entity. There's only one President, but there are 535 people in Congress. It is possible to agree with some of them on some issues and others on other issues.

      Dummy.

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


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