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Friday, June 07, 2013


The "Congress knew" defense

President Obama defends his super-snooping program, claiming that "they’re not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program." First of all, I note he also says that "the relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs," which suggests that "every member of Congress", to whom the word "fully" isn't applied, may or may not know very much at all.

But even if every member of Congress were in fact fully briefed, there's a little problem with that. Because they were briefed in secret and unable to convey that information to their constituents. So if they wanted to, say, campaign for reelection on the grounds of supporting (or opposing) that policy, they couldn't do so. Furthermore, no challenger could campaign against them on a platform of ending these policies, because no challenger would have known about the policies.

On a related issue, talking to FOX's Shep Smith earlier today (actually being grilled by Smith, who was having none of his double-talk and evasions), the former deputy director of the NSA claimed that the program was ipso facto Constitutional because "all three branches of government" were involved with it. But the "FISA Court" is a special, secret court. Not only have they never denied a single government request, but no citizen can challenge a decision they make, because their decisions are all secret. Therefore the Constitutionality of the court itself, or of any decision it has made, is not subject to review by the Supreme Court, the only institution which can actually rule on the Constitutionality of a law.

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