Saturday, July 19, 2014

White House: No "Democratic Process" For U.S. Citizens On Intelligence Policy

A new NSA domestic spying piece just came out today. I got it via Marcy Wheeler, who runs the great blog Emptywheel. Her tweet:
The piece was written by John Napier Tye, a former State Department employee. Please see Emptywheel for a deeper discussion on this - I just wanted to point to something Tye says right off the bat:
In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact that the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance practices would have on U.S. Internet freedom policies. The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.”  
But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line, making a general reference to “our laws and policies,” rather than our intelligence practices. I did. 
Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them.
The White House counsel's office "instructed" a State Department speechwriter to not say that U.S. citizens have the opportunity to change U.S. government policy through the democratic process. Because "it wasn't true."

I know I'm a plain old dummy U.S. citizen - but what the f*ck?

Note: I get that much in the intelligence world must by necessity be out of wide public view, but that does not mean intelligence oversight by democratically elected officials cannot take place. My old senator, Ron Wyden, among others, has been trying to hammer this point home for ages. 

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