Saturday, January 4, 2014

Is Our Senators And Representatives Learning

"NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons.

NSA is fully committed to transparency with Congress. Our interaction with Congress has been extensive both before and since the media disclosures began last June. We are reviewing Senator Sanders’s letter now, and we will continue to work to ensure that all Members of Congress, including Senator Sanders, have information about NSA’s mission, authorities, and programs to fully inform the discharge of their duties.”

What a relief to learn we are all equal under the law.


Nixon's Ghost said...

Although it should be obvious from ninth grade civicz class, the NSA is (supposed to be) an executive agency. As such, there are severe separation of powers violations when the executive spies on Congress without informed congressional approval.

Certainly this spying may also violate the individual rights of congressmen, just as the President is violating our own rights.

However, Clapper's answer falls short by not citing the legal authority for the President to spy on (disinform etc) Congress.

Also, if the President is not informed of this spying, we have an entirely rogue junta.

Also note earlier revelations that the NSA is sharing the results of Congressional spying with Israel.

Professor Chutzpah said...

How generous of Mr. Clapper to teach Americans and Congress our privacy rights!

Actually, though not an additional "right," congress can have greater expectation of privacy in their communications than even regular citizens. As a separate and equal branch of government, they have the power to conduct their business--which is of course our business--without Presidential monitoring or interference. Certainly the Justice Department can investigate reasonable suspicions of criminal activity by Congress (that's also a check), but that isn't the case here. Rather, Clapper is asserting a non-Constitutional power to monitor Congress at all times.

Just think, each time Clapper goes before the intelligence committee, he already has dossiers on what he is going to be asked and details on the private peccadillos of every person on the committee.

So, while it is awkward to speak of the Constitutional power of Congress as a privacy right, the lack of privacy in Congressional discussions means we are all losing rights of representation. Mr. Clapper is taking this power for himself, and presumably the President.

There is of course plenty of indications that the NSA is also spying on the judiciary, and that the information is shared by a small coterie of corporate and international elites.

This is what totalitarianism looks like.

The circle is closing.