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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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