Friday, May 22, 2015

The National Security Administration - Unfettered

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton

I stand by everything I have said about our intelligence community with one notable exception: the National Security Administration. There were things I did not know about the NSA until someone sent me some startling information (link is posted below). I still believe we need to trust the men and women who work in clandestine operations to do what is in the best interests of our country. Abuses will occur in any job, no matter what that job is, and there are laws to deal with such abuses when they are exposed. At least, there should be.
Do any of my readers know how many regulations exist to govern the National Security Administration? The answer is, zero. None. Zilch. Nada. Not one. That is what disturbs me and what has provoked this post. In fact, no one has even seen the NSA's charter:
It is classified as "top secret", with the reasoning that to expose it would expose past and current intelligence-gathering techniques and assets. So, if no one knows what it is the National Security Administration is supposed to do, how can anyone regulate how it is supposed to conduct itself? In fact, the only laws that exist concerning the NSA are to prohibit the "release of any information about the agency":
Very disturbing indeed. I have mentioned my experience in security many times. Never in any job I ever held did I have carte blanche with zero accountability. I was wrong to condemn Senator Rand Paul for his "filibuster". I did not realize this agency runs independently, without restriction and without supervision. That is appalling. Perhaps George Orwell knew of the NSA when he wrote "1984". Technically, the National Security Administration is governed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with warrants being issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court:
However, in practice, the NSA pretty much does whatever it wants:
The abuses outlined in this op ed piece are not new; in "The Puzzle Palace" (link below) the first chapter outlines a similar arrangement the NSA had with Western Union and other communications companies that existed when the agency was first created.
I want to point out something else, because most of my readers will not sit down and read the link provided below (although they really should). The National Security Administration falls under the auspices of the Department of Defense. Those two agencies, along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, govern 85% to 90% of all humtel (human intelligence) and sigtel (signals intelligence) assets. Read that again. The military governs eighty-five-to-ninety percent of all intelligence assets, leaving just 10% to 15% for the Central Intelligence Agency (Congress says ten percent).
Ten percent. We all thought the CIA controlled intelligence when in fact it has a very small role, which once again brings me to Mike Morell and Benghazi. If the military controls intelligence, it is entirely possible (even likely) that CIA did not see the DIA report released by Judicial Watch this week...or at least did not see it in time for the "talking points" to be completed.
Something needs to be done about the National Security Administration. The need for the agency is clear, and I support its existence. However, there must be accountability in any organization, and with the grave powers of the NSA must come grave oversight and grave consequences for abusing those powers. Otherwise, an agency created ostensibly to protect the United States of America can and will become its greatest threat.

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