In the wake of the revelations of intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden, that the U.S. government reaped billions of Americans’ records and noted tens of millions of American cell phone records, apologists for the Patriot Act’s draconian snooping programs rushed to defend this governmental intrusion by citing court and congressional approval and oversight.
It sounds good. But what does it really mean?
The court isn’t really a court, in the traditional sense. It’s not in any courtroom, open to the public.
In the book, The Shadow Factory by James Bamford, we find judges on the secret tribunal referring to the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Security Act) court as a “Potemkin court” – or a fake court that looks like a court, but is really something else. (p.270)
As for Congress, it may do some things well, but oversight ain’t one of them. L. Fletcher Prouty, an Air force officer who worked with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on various CIA missions (during the Vietnam era), tells of meeting with a Senator to brief him on undercover operations.
According to Prouty, the Senator told him before the ‘briefing’ began, “Keep it short. What I don’t know about it won’t hurt me.”
In other words –“Don’t tell me.”
Congress, ignoring the 4th Amendment governing search and seizure, and terrified of new attacks after 9/11, surrendered the keys to the candy store to intelligence agencies.
To add insult to injury, they called it ‘Patriot Act.’
They made crimes legal, and made snooping routine.
The government says, ‘It’s OK.’
“Don’t worry”, Be happy”