Irked that the government lied to you about the privacy abuses of the National Security Agency (NSA)? You’re not alone.
Today, Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut published a statement on the recent revelation that the NSA had breached privacy laws thousands of times in a one-year period. The Washington Post, which broke that story, also reported that the NSA kept news of such encroachments from Congress, and that the rate of abuse was increasing.
This is not in keeping with the official party line, bipartisan take that the NSA is a benign evil that could abuse your privacy — but doesn’t(!). That narrative is now over. The NSA’s abuse of our privacy is systemic, widespread and often banally accidental. I could go on, and I will in later posts, but let’s give space to the good Congressman (emphasis mine):
“I am quite disturbed by the news that the NSA violated laws and internal procedures established to protect Americans’ privacy nearly 3,000 times in just one year. I have been assured by the leadership in the intelligence community and by the President that there has been no abuse of these programs. These assurances factored into my decision to vote against the Amash amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act, so this new report is profoundly concerning to me. While I understand that a majority of these incidents, particularly those related to roaming, were mistakes, the bottom line is that when we are talking about constitutional rights, we need a system and culture that is zero-tolerance—the NSA must foster a culture and systems that fully protect the rights of the American people as it works to protect us from harm.
“It is clear based on today’s reports that we need to examine and improve those systems and culture within the NSA and improve congressional oversight of our nation’s intelligence gathering. While a system of this magnitude will never be without errors, the intelligence community should lean into, not away from, reporting violations of privacy to Congress. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on the committee to ensure these kinds of mistakes do not happen again and that the civil liberties of the American people are being fully respected.”
Hot damn, that’s the ticket. Here Rep. Himes points out that the false information tendered to him by both the “intelligence community” and the president was in fact not correct. And, even more, he points out that due to that false information, he himself cast a vote that he might regret.
And what do we call the dissemination of false information with the intent to deceive, my fine friends? Lying. We do not need to hide behind the language of This Town or relate to playing-card analogies. We can instead be honest: People lied. This perhaps led to the death of the Amash amendment that would have curtailed elements of the NSA’s pervasive surveillance programs.
That amendment failed, narrowly, in the House.
There has been a pattern of lying and obfuscation by the NSA and its assorted fans in government in the past few months. The record is somewhat plain. Good on Rep. Himes for raising his hand and asking that fewer lies be served up in the Congressional cafeterias.
Top Image Credit: Zoe Rudisill
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