Oversight FAIL

Last Friday marked the release of a report on the President's Surveillance Program (PSP), the report that those of us in the surveillance policy world have been waiting for with bated breath since, well, the FISA Amendments Act passed last summer and mandated its creation.

The report, jointly drafted by the Offices of Inspectors General for the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, was supposed to finally shed some light on President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program that the New York Times exposed in December 2005. Well, the Inspectors General (IGs) basically told us, "Don't hold your breath." Major oversight FAIL.

First of all, while the report does include some new information gleaned from interviews with officials involved in the program, the report primarily cites already public sources, like congressional testimony, to tell a story we already know.

Moreover, the report fails to address a number of key questions:

The report did come up with 1 1/2 useful revelations. The first, which should come as no surprise, is that the information obtained through the program did not turn out to be useful. Many government officials, agents, and analysts told the IGs that "most PSP leads were determined not to have any connection to terrorism" (p. 32). They argued instead that "the mere possibility of the leads producing useful information" justified the program (p. 32), directly contradicting the previous administration's assertions that the program was critical. Additionally, interviewees explained that information derived from the program was "vague or without context," leading analysts to rely on more useful tools (p.34). So, not only was the program illegal, but it did relatively little to make the country any safer.

Epic surveillance FAIL.

No wonder the White House told the CIA to add a paragraph to the end of each of its threat assessments stating that terrorists possessed the intent and capability to stage terrorist attacks within the United States (p. 7). After all, "if a threat assessment identified a threat against the United States the PSP was likely to be renewed" (p. 9). Conclusion: when the evidence does not support your program, make stuff up so the program can continue. Brilliant.

And, then the half-revelation, which should also come as no surprise: The IGs found former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony before Congress claiming that Justice Department attorneys did not express legal concerns with the Bush program to be "incomplete," "confusing," and "inaccurate" (p. 37). We told you so.

The IGs conclude that "the retention and use by the [Intelligence Community] organizations of information collected under the PSP and FISA should be carefully monitored" (p. 38). We couldn't agree more. This report left too many unanswered questions, and it's time for Congress to step in and find out the truth. We therefore urge Congress to form a Select Committee to finally learn what went right, what went wrong, and what is still going on under our national security policies related to surveillance, as well as to torture and detention. And, when Congress receives testimony that is "incomplete," "confusing," or "inaccurate," they have a duty not to stop there, but instead to ask more questions and demand complete information.

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Miranda

I think there has been a collusion of the two parties, to protect each others backs. There won't be any questions asked at any of these investigations, that might weigh heavily on the guilt meter. The only way we will get justice would be by cleaning out the congressional offices in our halls of congress.

anon

quote from article: "How many Americans were spied on under the PSP? And, what was done with the information gleaned from that surveillance?" (end quote)

You ask the question, "How many Americans WERE spied on under the PSP?"

That question needs to be rephrased or restated to use the present tense. "How many Americans ARE currently being spied on under the PSP?"

There is still a major surveillance program underway in this country and it would appear that at least some in law enforcement are involved. Someone needs to be aggressively investigating. Average Americans have been targeted and are currently being victimized by those involved in this program. Please do something.

anon

I spoke too soon -- I didn't read the entire article. Thank you for your efforts to help. Hopefully those who are currently being psychologically harassed will someday see an end to a practice that is abusive and just plain wrong. There is no room for this kind of Machiavellian, sadistic practice in America, especially. The program must be exposed and stopped.

Michael Tuck

We are preparing to cover this on the History Commons Civil Liberties project. Suzanne, this is a tremendously informative post, full of links that we will use in our coverage. Right now, we're spending a lot of time covering issues and events surrounding the April torture memo release, but this is next on our radar.

We've created what I think is an invaluable information resource for anyone interested in these (and other) issues. Come check us out. Thanks, and I'll be back.

Mike (blackmax on HC)
http://www.historycommons.org

Vic Livingston

(ACLU moderator: Please post this corrected version:)

The “PSP” — The Cover Story for an Ideologically-Driven American Politicide and Domestic Torture Now Enabled by Team Obama

***

When Will ACLU Wake Up and Smell the Domestic Police State?

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Covert GPS Tracking the Backbone of an American Gestapo Hiding in Plain Sight

***

FEMA, Secret Service, FBI, the U.S. military and intel agencies are among the federal enablers of volunteer community policing, anti-terrorism and town watch organizations transmogrified by Bush-Cheney into fronts for a nationwide, civilian Gestapo-like army.

This grassroots-based extrajudicial targeting and punishment “torture matrix” uses covertly implanted GPS tracking devices to stalk, harass, vandalize and terrorize unjustly “targeted” Americans and their families.

When “targets” travel, the GPS system alerts local units of this American Gestapo, and the harassment follows. Local police cooperation denies these targeted Americans their Constitutional right of equal protection under the law.

Silent, injury- and illness-inducing microwave and laser radiation “directed energy weapons” are being used to torture, and to degrade the lives of targeted citizens — what could be described as a quiet, ideologically-motivated genocide.

And companion array of “programs of personal financial destruction — using the IRS as a politial weapon — decimates the finances of “target” families. Their telecommunications and U.S. mail appear to be subject to warrantless surveillance, interception and tampering — including the alteration of financial accounts and credit card and utility billing statements.

This cruel bypass of the American judicial system makes a mockery of the rule of law — and political “dissidents,” “whistle-blowers” and those considered to be social “deviates” are among its prime targets.

Civil rights advocates: Wake up and smell the police state that has co-opted POTUS and a deluded Congress into becoming enablers of vigilante injustice and domestic torture.

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-ter...

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

See “GESTAPO USA” at NowPublic.com/scrivener (”stream” or “stories” list).

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