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View Diary: Obama May Cut Back ON NSA (42 comments)

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  •  As they try on different hats, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they are

    increasingly concerned
    pretty well panicked about the exposed illegality. There aren't anymore "change the laws" hats left.
    •  DiFi would be happy to change the law. n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  I think 'cosmetic change to the law' will be (4+ / 0-)

      the outcome.  Here's how I think it will play out.  

      Beginning a few weeks ago --

      1. Obama on Charlie Rose says he wants to open up a discussion and mentions the 'Civil Liberties Board' that (although dormant) he will use to manage that discussion;

      2.  At Netroots Nation, the always-on-message Nancy Pelosi, in response to a question about Snowden/NSA, mentions that Obama has just talked to the 'Civil Liberties Board' and they will be leading the discussion on the FISA court

      3. This week, in sudden succession, we get a relative flood of new infomation about the FISA Court and its 'secret body of common law'.  This info comes to us through (1) the NYT, using unnamed and unauthorized 'former court officials', then (2) the WSJ, with more complete information.

      4. The 'Civil Liberties Board' (which has only recently been fully staffed, and which had 2 briefings by NSA staff followed by one meeting with Obama) holds its first meeting in which a former FISA judge expresses his concerns about the 'secret laws' and lack of oversight, and suggests that the 'Civil Liberties Board' might provide oversight.

      Some apologies and explanations of the above:  Sorry for no links; I have a big bundle of links/articles tossed in a virtual shoebox and have not had time to compile them.  So the best I can do right now for sources is to say the NYT article was by Lichtblau; the WSJ articles was analyzed by Marcy at; and a Bloomberg article gives a good explanation of the 'Civil Liberties Board', revealing it as a toothless, useless body which has no power to act.  When I say 'recently', I mean no more than about five weeks (Charlie Rose & Netroots) and the last 7-10 days for articles.  I've used 'Civil Liberties Board' to name the purported oversight group (because it's got one of those cumbersome government names that I can't remember right now).  Much of this was documented here at dKos earlier this week in diaries about the NYT/WSJ articles.

      Okay, with the disclaimers out of the way, here's what I see.

      I was thrilled when the NYT story broke, but I couldn't get past the persistent question of 'how could NYT get anybody to speak about the secret court?'.  That question persisted after the WSJ article, and when I learned about the Board.  All this newly-freed information was exciting, and it gave me hope, made me believe that maybe this would be the beginning of a productive public dialogue that would restore our Fourth Amendment rights.

      Then I ran across the phrase that the goal was to have the Board 'structure the conversation'.  

      And I saw that all of this was stagecraft.  We were being managed.

      To what end?  I asked myself.

      The current structure of the FISA court and its laws were the 'fix' put in place after Bush's Warrentless Wiretapping brouhaha, which retroactively immunized the telecoms for wiretapping.

      Okay, so if that's how they play, how will that play out this time?

      I think it will play out this way:  Selective and controlled disclosures of the FISA Court's procedures and it body of secret law will continue, along with other suggestions like cutting back on phone harvesting.   Some funding might be moved and programs putitatively 'scaled down'.  The 'secret laws' -- at least some of them -- will be considered as useful precedents and codified into public law.

      I hope I'm wrong.  But at this point, I think it's all stagecraft that will end up fortifying the NSA surveillance state.

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