If you were putting it all on the line in Vegas, 4-431 probably aren’t the odds you’d be looking for to double your money, but right now it’s the only play we’ve got.
In a letter addressed to the director of national intelligence James Clapper, this week Senators Mark Begich of Alaska, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, with John Walsh and Tester of Montana raised their concerns about the many, many breaches of the American people’s trust that had pervaded every tier of the NSA’s employment structure. These assaults on personal privacy included reading random people’s emails, text messages, and Facebook conversations en masse, recording Skype calls between users, and even passing around nude photos picked up from webcams that were spied on through services like Yahoo.
“The [Snowden] revelations raise significant doubts about whether we are striking the right balance between securing our nation and upholding the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens,” the senators wrote in the letter, which was dated Thursday.
In response to every allegation and internal memo that’s come out in the past year, the NSA and its associated lackeys have continued to drone on with the message that they are “only looking at the bad guys”, while still somehow dodging the question of how they judge someone on that scale.
“We’re not just randomly looking to collect communications of U.S. persons or non-U.S. persons,” Robert S. Litt , general counsel for the ODNI, said at a security forum in Aspen, Colo., this week. “It all has to be driven by valid foreign intelligence needs.”
The arbitrary, highly flexible nature of their sliding scale between what makes a person “worthy of investigation” is the real problem here, because while on the surface the NSA has done a good job as presenting itself as one large, homogenous entity that wields an absolute power with an absolute set of morals, in reality the agency is a mish mash of individuals from all different walks of life.
Everyone with their own set of morals and standards, some perfectly above board and willing to respect the rules like the rest of us, and others…not so much. When you give this kind of monitoring technology over to thousands of people at once, it’s inevitable that at least a few of them will abuse the responsibility and use it in a way that not everyone might agree with.
To get down to specifics, the senators asked Clapper to delete “all information that was not pertinent to open investigations”, and to work within the bounds of a series of checks and balances that will keep the agency from snowballing out of control the way it has in such a short period of time.
They also wanted the number of people who fall under the agency’s definition of Section 702, to give an accurate picture of just how far the NSA was willing to go to catch terrorists during one of the least regulated dynasties of their 60 year history.
Four out of 435 may not seem like much, but it’s a start. The more representatives who stand up to the agencies they are elected to govern, the more we’ll see a domino effect start to unleash, and one day the NSA will be forced to re-evaluate their polices, and rescind their unchecked power which has lasted for far too long.