Chief privacy “court” judge admits it cannot oversee NSA

Judge Reggie B. Walton has told the Washington Post, in writing, the following:

The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court. The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance, and in that respect the FISC is in the same position as any other court when it comes to enforcing [government] compliance with its orders.

Once again, the NSA’s vaunted and strict “oversight” regime is shown for what it is: a toothless, fictional joke. What we have is that the chief judge of a secret “court” admits that it can only rely on the agency that the court is tasked to oversee. That is not oversight.

Here is how the Washington Post summarizes the impact:

The court’s description of its practical limitations contrasts with repeated assurances from the Obama administration and intelligence agency leaders that the court provides central checks and balances on the government’s broad spying efforts. They have said that Americans should feel comfortable that the secret intelligence court provides robust oversight of government surveillance and protects their privacy from rogue intrusions.

President Obama and other government leaders have emphasized the court’s oversight role in the wake of revelations this year that the government is vacuuming up “metadata” on Americans’ telephone and Internet communications.

“We also have federal judges that we’ve put in place who are not subject to political pressure,” Obama said at a news conference in June. “They’ve got lifetime tenure as federal judges, and they’re empowered to look over our shoulder at the executive branch to make sure that these programs aren’t being abused.”

Read the full article here.