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Monday, December 19, 2005

A View of Intelligence Oversight...

From the Inside.

There has been a fracas lately about certain types of Intelligence gathering and it's applied use and legality as of late. This disturbance comes from a law in the 1970's and Reagan Presidential Orders collectively known as Intelligence Oversight.

Back in the late seventies and early eighties it became apparent to our government that there were no safeguards in place against an extreme government elected by the people from spying on their domestic enemies. So they enacted a series of laws and executive orders that culminated in these rules. Everyone on the intelligence field is taught these rules almost from day one, and we are well versed in them.

These rules are *:
Federal Intelligence Agencies may collect domestic intelligence for training and informational purposes. They however cannot, act on that intelligence without a court order or release that intelligence to other agencies without a warrant if either permission is not granted by the subject or there is no warrant and the subject is a U.S. Person.

That last part is clear and the most important. We may not collect and then disseminate intelligence against a U.S. Person (defined as a Citizen, or Legal Permanent U.S. Resident). Intelligence collection restrictions only apply to U.S. Persons. Period.
Anything else is legally and, for the most part, morally fair game.

Anything that is collected incidentally that does not fit these parameters can be held for up to three months, again for training purposes, and then must be destroyed.

So what does this all mean? Well for one, collecting the information that the President authorized is not illegal. U.S. Persons were not the subject, it required an offshore connection, so it was not subject to oversight anyway, and it was done in the defense of our nation during war.

Could, or even should the President have done it differently? Hindsight is always 20/20 and I am sure there may be better ways brought up over the next few days, but I do believe the President acted well within his powers when he authorized what ever he authorized. I get a feeling that many members of congress agree, given that they were briefed 12 times at least, and no one voiced an objection until now, when it is politically advantageous in their minds. They know that political advantage does not require facts, but only conjecture. Partisan politics playing with our welfare once again.

(* the condensed version as the real version is filled with legal speak and too long to reproduce here.)

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