But We Can Turn the Tide
Today the Senate confirmed President Obama's nomination of former FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni as a federal judge in the Southern District of New York.
It is hard for this to not echo a reminder of Obama's appointment of James Clapper, who lied to Congress about the fact that the NSA collected data on millions of Americans, so that Clapper would actually head the "independent" review panel evaluating whether there was abuse in the NSA's secret spy programs.
The Guardian newspaper describes Caproni as follows:
Even before the Guardian's phone records revelations, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, lawmakers found Caproni to be complicit in surveillance abuses.
A 2010 report by the Department of Justice's internal watchdog found that the FBI misused a type of non-judicial subpoena known as an "exigent letter" to improperly obtain more than 5,500 phone numbers of Americans.
"The FBI broke the law on telephone records privacy and the general counsel's office, headed by Valerie Caproni, sanctioned it and must face consequences," said John Conyers, then the chairman of the House judiciary committee, in April 2010, who called for then-FBI director Robert Mueller to fire her.
Conyers said he was "outraged" that the FBI invented "exigent letters" to more easily obtain phone records, and intimated Caproni was responsible for it. "It's not in the Patriot Act. It never has been. And its use, perhaps coincidentally, began in the same month that Ms Valerie Caproni began her work as general counsel," Conyers said in a hearing that month. The FBI stopped using exigent letters in 2006.
Lawmakers' dissatisfaction with Caproni over surveillance has a long pedigree.
In an April 2008 House hearing, Caproni told lawmakers that if a phone number obtained from a telephone company using a nonjudicial subpoena ostensibly authorized by the Patriot Act was unrelated to a "currently open investigation, and there was no emergency at the time we received the records, the records are removed from our files and destroyed".
In fact, the NSA, at the time of Caproni's testimony and today, stores phone records such as phone numbers on practically all Americans for up to five years, whether or not they are connected to an "open investigation".
Ex-FBI lawyer linked to surveillance abuses poised for federal judge post, The Guardian Newspaper, September 6, 2013
This does not have to continue. We know the impact that democractic action, collective action by the People, has on major policy decisions - - just as we currently see how public opinion and demands have had on the U.S. war plans for Syria. This is the importance of the ThankYouEdSnowden campaign, a grassroots campaign that sends a message to the White House, to Congress, and to the world at large that we, the people of the United States, say no to the surveillance state that has been implemented under cover of secrecy (until whistleblowers like Edward Snowden pulled back the curtain and provided us the information we need and can use to act upon).