Sunday, July 20, 2014

John Napier Tye On EO 12333: Does It Spell The Limit Of Democracy?

Via emptywheel, we have John Napier Tye, who "served as section chief for Internet freedom in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor from January 2011 to April 2014," writing at WaPo:
What if most American laws looked
like this, even to Congress?
In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact that the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance practices would have on U.S. Internet freedom policies. The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.”

But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line, making a general reference to “our laws and policies,” rather than our intelligence practices. I did.

Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them.


(Bolds mine. - SB)

The notion that there are federal government intelligence policies and practices that are a) completely secret, even from Congress, b) implemented exclusively according to the dictates of executive agencies historically operated in strictest secrecy, and c) beyond the reach of, and modification or revocation by, our alleged representative democracy, is a concept that would have been familiar to... but abhorrent to... our nation's founders. They would likely have seen such policies and practices as among the worst that an absolute monarchy had to offer. And IMNSHO they would have been absolutely right.

Even our Constitution, that most stable basis of our government, has means of modification when the times require it. Such modification of our fundamental document has been successfully undertaken 27 times in our history. No such procedure for modification of Executive Order 12333 exists. It is, in theory at least, forever immutable.

Have a nice day! [/sarcasm] 

AFTERTHOUGHT: do I even need to say it? The motherfucker that is EO 12333 was issued in 1981, by.... of course... Ronald Reagan. If there is an afterlife, and if Reagan lives there, I hope he has no temperature control in his room...

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