In Brief: What Ought to Happen Regarding NSA Surveillance and FISA Court "Oversight":
(Note: Yesterday, the Rude Pundit was forced into the demonic choice of eating at Five Guys or Panera. Despite previous incidents, he went with the "healthier" Panera, and today, as before, his stomach is suffering mightily, as is his much-abused bathroom, from waste extrusions above and below. So this will be brief as he feels a heave approaching.)
This morning on The Stephanie Miller Show, the graceful, demure Ms. Miller asked the Rude Pundit a question that, truth be told, he should have had an answer for. "What would you do?" she asked, in the wake of a discussion of the increasingly disconcerting revelations about the National Security Agency's routine collection of, well, shit, seeming every piece of information about electronic/digital/sky-flying communication except for content (although, really, at this point, can you be sure?), as well as the New York Times article this weekend about the rubber stamp work of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court, when A=Act). See, a group of 11 judges, appointed with no oversight, no checks, no balances by Chief Justice John Roberts, hears secret evidence on secret cases to grant secret warrants for the NSA to secretly collect, well, shit, pretty much everything. Oh, and it's taken the Patriot Act and FISA to mean that the NSA can collect, well, shit, pretty much everything (with a big assist from telecommunications companies). And the Obama administration has taken that to mean it has free license to go nutzoid on collecting...
All nice and legal and secret.
If we had not been on FCC-sanctioned radio, the Rude Pundit would have said, "Well, fuck me. That's a great question." Instead, he took the politic route and said, "That's what we need to figure out." But that's not good enough. Put the fuck up or shut the fuck up, you know?
So here goes, in a few easy steps:
1. Okay, so Obama wants (or has been forced into) a "national conversation" about what we're going to do about "security" since we have all these "threats" around us? Let's have that conversation. But let's please stop having it through all the cunts and cowards on TV palavering about it.
2. Instead, let's have it out in Congress. This presumes a Congress that could have a debate. Let's debate if we're cool with the metadata pond that allows intelligence officials to go fishing or whatever stupid fucking metaphor you wanna use.
2a. Yes, we can debate this in the open. If you don't believe that we can, if you think "the terrorists will know" or some idiocy, then you have allowed fear to dictate the terms of democracy and that's how democracy withers away.
2 (cont'd). And, assuming a functioning Congress, pass laws that set the terms of surveillance and data collection in a post-privacy era. Those terms may be "Go right ahead. Collect, well, shit, everything. And, what the hell, put cameras everywhere." Or they may be "Whoa, whoa, get the fuck out of our browser histories. Spy on the bad guys only."
3. 'Cause, see, then we'd know. And then we get to decide, through elections, if we agree with what came out of the "national conversation."
4. 'Cause, see, then we'd know who we are and where we stand. Are we the nation that has sanctioned its intelligence services to monitor us? Or are we the nation that says, "Oh, fuck no"?
5. 'Cause, see, even if we as a nation decide "Whatever, fine, go ahead" when it comes to surveillance, that'd make us different than the Soviet Union, China, East Germany, whatever example of secret surveillance you wanna use. Transparency goes a long, long way to restoring trust.
"We have no one to blame but ourselves" is a far better position than "Shut up and take it."