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IU Maurer professor offers recommendations for reforming the NSA

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To prevent the National Security Agency’s continued illegal surveillance and collection of metadata on foreign and domestic individuals, legal scholar Fred Cate is recommending more transparency and increased monitoring.
 
Cate is a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and the director of the Indiana University Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. He submitted a list of 10 recommendations to the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology in September.

“To be certain, many of the NSA’s activities must, in large part, be conducted in secret,” Cate wrote. “But this does not mean that those activities should be conducted free from effective oversight or that they should be immune from careful scrutiny as to whether their considerable costs are justified by appropriate benefits. Perhaps most importantly, they should not operate outside the law or be conducted in ways that are unnecessarily intrusive or costly or damaging – to personal privacy, to the U.S. economy, to the integrity and standing of the nation, or to the values that we purport to uphold.”

Among his recommendations, Cate is advocating for the establishment of an oversight agency, strengthening of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and reducing secrecy by disclosing key information to the public.

Cate compared the oversight agency to an intelligence version of the Federal Reserve Board or the Government Accountability Office. It would help the NSA think more broadly about its activities and provide credible and apolitical monitoring of the NSA as well as advise the legislative and executive branches on compliance issues and areas of concern.

He also suggested that the oversight agency could provide security-cleared attorneys to appear before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to prevent the court from rubber-stamping NSA requests.

While acknowledging that some surveillance activities should be kept private, Cate recommended the NSA disclose the broad outlines of its activities to the public. Moreover, Congress should prohibit outright secret data systems, secret legal interpretations and secret assertions of government power.

 “In no event, ever, must (the) need for secrecy be allowed to justify the absence of oversight or accountability, especially concerning activities such as surveillance of U.S. persons that threaten fundamental rights and risk altering the basic balance between the government and the governed,” Cate wrote. “Whatever we think of the good intentions of the current leadership of the NSA, this is the surest way to the abuse of power and, ultimately, to tyranny.”
 
 

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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