Oversight Concedes Too Much

It’s deeply ironic that the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes in: Police Around the Country Regularly Abuse Law Enforcement Databases:


The AP investigation builds off more than a year’s worth of research by EFF into the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS). EFF previously found that the oversight body charged with combatting misuse had been systematically giving law enforcement agencies a pass by either failing to make sure agencies filed required misuse data or to hold hearings to get to the bottom of persistent problems with misuse. As EFF reported, confirmed misuse cases have more than doubled in California between 2010 and 2015.

Contrast that post with:

NSA’s Failure to Report Shadow Broker Vulnerabilities Underscores Need for Oversight and What to Do About Lawless Government Hacking and the Weakening of Digital Security, both of which are predicated on what? Oversight.

Sorry, it is one of those “facts” everyone talks about in the presidential debates that both the Senate select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have been, are and in all likelihood will be, failures in terms of oversight of intelligence agencies. One particularly forceful summary of those failures can be found in: A Moon Base, Cyborg Army, and Congress’s Failed Oversight of the NSA by Eli Sugarman.

Eli writes:

Does the U.S. government have a moon base? How about a cyborg army? These questions were not posed by Stephen Colbert but rather by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) to highlight the futility of Congress’s intelligence oversight efforts. Amash decried how Congress is unable to reign in troubling NSA surveillance programs because it is not adequately informed about them or permitted to share the minimal information it does know. Congress is instead forced to tease out nuggets of information by playing twenty questions with uncooperative intelligence officials in classified briefings.

Oversight? When the overseen decide if, when, where and how much they will disclose to the overseers?

The EFF and others need to stop conceding the legitimacy of government surveillance and abandon its quixotic quest for implementation of a strategy, oversight, which is known to fail.

For anyone pointing at the latest “terrorism” attack in New York City, consider these stats from the Center for Disease Control (CDC, 2013):

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:

  • Heart disease: 614,348
  • Cancer: 591,699
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541
  • Diabetes: 76,488
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,227
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 48,146
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773

Do you see terrorism on that list?

Just so you know, toddlers with guns kill more people in the United States than terrorists.

Without terrorism, one of the knee-jerk justifications for government surveillance vanishes.

The EFF should be challenging the factual basis of government justifications for surveillance one by one.

Conceding that any justification for surveillance exists without contesting its factual basis is equivalent to conceding the existence of an unsupervised surveillance state.

Once surveillance is shown to have no factual justification, then the dismantling of the surveillance state can begin.

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