TheDC Morning: The oversight joke
Like to laugh? Like to be informed? Then sign up for TheDC Morning email here.
1.) The oversight joke — TheDC’s Tim Cavanaugh interviewed William Binney, a 30-year veteran analyst for the National Security Agency who retired in 2001. Binney explains the extent of the NSA’s powers and says the oversight of the agency isn’t particularly robust, to put it nicely:
“The former FBI agent, Tim Clemente, says they can get access to the content of any audio, any phone call. He says that there are no digital communications that are safe or secure. So that means that they were tapping into the databases that NSA has. For the recorded audio, and for the textual materials like emails and phone. … So I look at the oversight by Congress and the courts as just a joke. In the last year, how many requests for a warrant has the FISA court rejected? Zero. It’s just a rubber stamp. In 2002 the FISA courts found out that the FBI lied on 75 affidavits for a warrant. And they didn’t do anything as a result of that. How good of an oversight is that? It’s nothing, it’s a joke.”
This is not particularly heartening, even for those who believe the government should have some leeway in implementing security measures.
2.) Trust us, but don’t verify — We are told to believe that, unlike Internal Revenue Service agents, National Security Agency professionals aren’t prone to acting inappropriately with their power. But there are serious allegations that those working with the agency have abused their power and violated the civil liberties of Americans who had as much a connection to terrorism as Michael Moore does to the truth. TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein reports:
“Two former intercept officers who worked at the NSA facility in Fort Gordon, Georgia told ABC News’s Brian Ross in 2008 that they and their colleagues listened in on phone calls home of hundreds of journalists, U.S. soldiers and American aid workers abroad. ‘These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept, and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,’ Adrienne Kinne, one of the whistle-blowers and a former Army Reserves Arab linguist, told ABC News. …Navy Arab linguist David Murfee Faulk told ABC News a similar story. He said that he and his colleagues listened in on the calls of American officers living in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Faulk described the personal nature of many of the calls, and how he and his colleagues would encourage each other to listen into a call where ‘there’s good phone sex’ or ‘some colonel making pillow talk.'”
This is the very type of thing we are promised isn’t happening to American citizens in the U.S. If these allegations are true, that’s hard to believe.
3.) Clapper on … everything — When he’s not testifying before Congress, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper writes an advice column for The Daily Caller. In this week’s installment, he provides some very detailed advice to a gentleman who asks whether he should give into his wife’s wishes and have a baby, or hold off so he can continue to focus on his business. TheDC’s Will Rahn channels James Clapper:
“Dear Tom, That’s quite a pickle you’re in! On the one hand, you should realize that have an undiagnosed heart defect that will probably kill you sometime in the next six months, so it would might be best to start trying sooner rather than later. (Don’t worry, it’s not genetic.) On the other hand, and totally unbeknownst to her, your wife Mary L. Johnson of Fayetteville, Ark., is a direct descendant of William Patrick Hitler, a.k.a. Adolf’s nephew. Are you sure that’s a genetic line you two want to continue? Hope this helps! James Clapper”
Read on to see what other advice General Clapper, via Rahn, has for Americans.
4.) The best gets paid less than the rest — The way they decide teacher compensation is truly insane. The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Robbie Soave reports:
“District Superintendent Dr. Thomas Harwood called him ‘a teacher amongst teachers.’ Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder described him as an outstanding math and science instructor with a tireless dedication to his craft. So why does Gary Abud, the 2013-14 Michigan Teacher of the Year, make well below the average salary for teachers in his district? The answer lies with the anti-meritocratic compensation rules governing teachers unions in Michigan. Abud, a Grosse Pointe North High School math teacher, made $56,876 last year, according to data obtained by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. That’s about $20,000 less than the average teacher salary in the Grosse Pointe Public Schools system — a relatively affluent suburban district.”
6.) Today in North Korean News — BREAKING: “Kim Jong Un Visits Football School, Sports Park”