Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

More FISA Court Fuckery (and the "Good Little Americans" Defense)

The chief judge of the FISA court is making the rounds and pleading that the court is not a puppet of the NSA:
Reggie Walton, the presiding judge of the court, wrote to the leadership of the Senate judiciary committee to rebut accusations that the Fisa court is merely a judicial rubber stamp.

His letter, dated October 11 and released on Tuesday, is the latest move by a court that is closed to the public to shed light on a surveillance process that has sparked an international outcry.

“During the three-month period between July 1 through September 30, we have observed that 24.4% of matters submitted ultimately involved substantive changes to the information provided by the government or to the authorities granted as a result of court inquiry or action,” Walton wrote to senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley.
I call bullshit.

The Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Sounds OK, so far, right.

Not hardly. There is a 40 year old Supreme Court case, Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443 (1971). That case requires that a "neutral and detached magistrate" issue any search warrants. I don't see how the FISA court giving the NSA's lawyers drafting hints in how to rewrite their FISA warrant requests qualifies as either neutral or detached.

But they say they're not a rubber-stamp court. Ya, sure, you betcha!

On another note, an NSA code-breaker is saying that the folks at the NSA are good Americans, too, and they'd never ever violate the rights of their fellow Americans.

I call bullshit on more than one level.

First off, both the NSA and the FBI were undoubtedly staffed with good and loyal Americans in the `50s, `60s and `70s. That did not stop them from illegally monitoring and spying on their fellow Americans who were active in the civil rights and antiwar movements.*

Second, our government was not founded on the principle of "trust us". The Founding Fathers knew that a working government was necessary, they had the utter failure of the American Confederation staring them right in the face. They were smart guys, they knew that power corrupts. They knew that relying solely on the good will of those who have power is futile. That's why they set up for form of government that they did.

Right now, the NSA has no check, no balances, only a rubber-stamp court. If Emperor Alexander and his court of lackeys decide to just disregard the law, there is nobody to call them out on it. The only route out of that is the one we are now treading: Reacting to the revelations of a brave whistleblower. We cannot depend that there will be another one, not with the current guy living in exile in Russia.

I am not comforted by the assurance of an NSA employee that they are all good people who would never ever break the law. Not when there were reports of NSA employees getting their jollies by listening in on the sexually-charged phone calls of our soldiers.

This shit has been going on for a very long time. The abuses get swept under the carpet by Emperor Alexander and his congressional stooges. It is time that the NSA be forced to obey the law, not the just the whim of its director.
* And yes, I have no doubt that both agencies were monitoring people opposed to the Wars of the Chimperor.

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