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The NSA- Keep Talking, We're Listening

by Dave Emanuel, published


What is most surprising about the current bumper crop of scandals that has sprouted under the Obama administration is that George Bush hasn't been blamed for them. Ironically, Bush, as well as a number of his predecessors, may actually have as much culpability in the IRS and NSA scandals as Obama. Many of the laws and regulations that defined the roles of these agencies were implemented well before the current administration took office. And although the number of abuses has undoubtedly increased exponentially under Obama's wink and nod oversight, the seeds of abuse were sown many years ago.

Perhaps the number and depth of scandals persuaded Obama to forsake "Plan B" (Blame Bush) and take a new approach-- "Plan D" (Denial) where in he labels the scandals "phony" thereby denying they exist. That's not a particularly wise plan because evidence abounds that the scandals are very real.

The most damning evidence relates to the NSA "snooping scandal". According to a recent Washington Post report, "The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence."

There would be no reason to remove details and alter language if NSA executives-- or higher ups weren't trying to hide something. Whether that "something" was intentional abuse or incompetence is a matter of conjecture. Odds are, it's both. Quoting The Post again, "The NSA audit obtained by The Post, dated May 2012, counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications. Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure. The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders."

Over 2,700 documented privacy violations in a single year, and the response from the president is to label such revelations a "phony scandal". Meanwhile, back at Damage Control Central,  Deputy Attorney General James Cole, apparently an Eric Holder clone, stated in testimony before Congress, “Every now and then, there may be a mistake.” Over 2,700 violations in a year equates to over 7 violations per day—that hardly qualifies as “now and then”

Depending on a person’s political affiliation, the NSA scandal may or may not be viewed as Obama’s fault. Finger-pointing aside, the real issue is that lack of bureaucratic accountability has existed for quite some time, regardless of the party in control of the White House or Congress. Add partisan politics to the mix and bureaucrats who know how to play the game simply run wild; the NSA and IRS scandals are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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