Recently Obama said that the oversight over the NSA worked:
“This latest revelation that was made, what was learned was that NSA had inadvertently, accidentally pulled the emails of some Americans in violation of their own rules because of technical problems that they didn’t realize. They presented those problems to the court. The court said, ‘This isn’t going to cut it. You’re going to have to improve the safeguards, given these technical problems.’ That’s exactly what happened. So the point is, is that all these safeguards, checks, audits, oversight worked.”
Uh…not so much:
The Justice Department’s internal ethics watchdog says it never investigated repeated complaints by federal judges that the government had misled them about the NSA’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and Internet communications.
Two judges on the court that oversees the spying programs separately rebuked federal officials in top-secret court orders for misrepresenting how the NSA was harvesting and analyzing communication records. In a sharply worded 2009 order, one of the judges, Reggie Walton, went so far as to suggest that he could hold national security officials in contempt or refer their conduct to outside investigators.
The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility routinely probes judges’ allegations that the department’s lawyers may have violated ethics rules that prohibit attorneys from misleading courts. Still, OPR said in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by USA TODAY that it had no record of ever having investigated — or even being made aware of — the scathing and, at the time, classified, critiques from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court between 2009 and 2011.
Those opinions were sufficiently critical that OPR should have reviewed the situation, even if only to assure the department that its lawyers were not to blame, former OPR attorney Leslie Griffin said. “There’s enough in the opinions that it should trigger some level of inquiry,” she said.
So repeated violations went uninvestigated by the DOJ. This is supposed to give us confidence that the oversight over NSA is working? The very fact that the DOJ ignored these complaints repeatedly tells me that they didn’t care, or even approved of, the violations. What’s their excuse? That they all fell through the cracks?