The Idiocies of “Oversight” and “Accountability”

Summary:  As the Republic dies, most American doze. But some burn with anger. Like that that motivated Arthur Silber when writing this guest post. Should that fire spread then change might becomes possible. Due to the collapse of our political institutions, we’re reduced to the most basic of organizational tools.  Please read this and pass it on.

Fake but good quote!

Telemachus, now is the time to be angry.
— Odysseus, from the The Odyssey (1997)

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The Idiocies of “Oversight” & “Accountability”

By Arthur Silber at Once Upon a Time
Posted with his generous permission.
8 February 2013

This is a preview of issues I plan to discuss in the conclusion of this article about Brennan and his Senate confirmation hearing. Since one particular question can be treated separately and comparatively briefly on its own, I decided to address it now.

In a NYT article about the Senate hearing on Brennan’s nomination to be C.I.A. Director, we are told:

Adding a new element to the roiling debate [about targeted killing by drone strikes — but good lord, what “roiling debate”??], the committee’s chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said she would review proposals to create a court to oversee targeted killings. She gave no details but said such a court would be analogous to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees eavesdropping on American soil.

Mr. Brennan was noncommittal, noting that lethal operations are generally the sole responsibility of the executive branch. But he said the administration had “wrestled with” the concept of such a court and called the idea “certainly worthy of discussion.”

It is only due to the fact that U.S. government officials are extraordinarily obtuse and ignorant, and/or inveterate liars (with no exceptions at all on the national level at this point), and because virtually every voice in the media is similarly mentally and morally challenged to a degree that reduces them to a permanent vegetative state, that such an idea is not greeted by raucous, side-splitting laughter from coast to coast.

The FISA court is regarded by almost everyone as an admirable model for oversight of especially sensitive issues. This is because almost everyone is irredeemably stupid. You may sense a theme here, just as you may conclude that I have run out of patience on these points. You have no idea. Does anyone appreciate what the FISA court represents and what it actually does?

The following short paragraph is from an article I published almost five years ago:

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I must immediately interject that to discuss these issues [pertaining to liberty and privacy] with regard to FISA is ludicrous in a much deeper sense. As Jonathan Turley explains here, FISA itself is a secret court whose very purpose is to circumvent the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.

The FISA court is no protection against illegitimate government intrusion at all. But as Turley notes, that we are fighting over whether to grant the executive branch and FISA still more untrammeled authority to disregard constitutional rights is a measure of how far we have already marched toward tyranny. And look at this chart to see just how compliant the FISA court is.

Take a careful look at that chart, which now includes data up to and including 2011. Here’s the link again. In 2010, 1,579 FISA applications were presented; 1,579 were approved. In 2011, 1,745 FISA applications were presented; 1,745 were approved.

The chart begins with 1979. In all the years from 1979 through 2011, applications were not immediately approved in only five years. Out of the many thousands of applications presented, a total of 11 were not approved. If you read the footnotes, you discover that even the “rejections” were usually not ultimate “denials of the requested authority”; the government would make minor modifications to the application in question, and it was then approved. In other words, the FISA court is a governmental rubber stamp of the first order. It represents no meaningful oversight in any manner whatsoever.

And this is regarded as a model of “oversight” — and this is the model touted as one to be utilized for applications to murder people on the basis of inconclusive, erroneous, or entirely non-existent information (non-existent with regard to particular individuals in the case of “signature strikes” — see this post for further discussion of these points). All of which is to say that, even if there were some court to “oversee” the administration’s Murder Program, it would represent only the most superficial procedural camouflage for what would remain a monstrous evil.

I highlight this issue to underscore the atmosphere of our “national discussion” about these issues in general, as well as the atmosphere of the Brennan hearing. I tried to capture some of the sense of the hearing in my mostly humorous earlier comments. Even though I view the administration’s Murder Program as a subject demanding the most grave and serious concern (as demonstrated in many essays about it, for example, here and here), one of my primary thoughts as I watched the senators indulge in their nauseating preening, grandiosity, narcissism and bland, unbearably dull, often barely literate remarks and questions, was simply: These people are clowns. Idiotic, stupid, ignorant clowns.

I obviously am very well aware of how dangerous and murderous the members of the national government can be, as revealed in many of my articles. But I think it is important, especially for those of us who oppose the vile, barbaric practices of this abominable State, always to keep in mind just how pathetically dumb and inept these people are when considered individually. As I watch these ludicrous buffoons go through their paces — and the Brennan hearing is entirely typical of all such hearings, commissions, etc. — I often think that a strong, persistent gust of wind would simply sweep all of them away, and onto the stomach-churning dung heap where they fully deserve to spend the rest of their days. It’s something to keep in mind for those who would resist.

But about the question of oversight, and the related pleas for “accountability” and “transparency”: keep in mind what the Murder Program is. The executive branch claims that it can murder anyone it chooses anywhere in the world, for any reason it wishes. Someone needs to explain to me how oversight, accountability and transparency will make such a program better. But they can’t explain that — because it cannot be done. A program that is evil in the manner the Murder Program is evil cannot be “improved,” or “managed” so as to make it decent and humane. The Murder Program is an abomination. You don’t “fix” abominations of this kind. You end them. You end them this very moment. As I said about this issue last November:

Evil does not become less evil because people are “open” about it. It is not miraculously transformed into good through some mysterious process of alchemy. Evil becomes only worse, infinitely worse. …

So if certain “critics” of the Murder Program get what they want, the State will be blessedly open about its programs devoted to evil. It will torture and murder regularly, perhaps every day, but in broad daylight, with all of us watching.

And a lot of people will be very pleased indeed. Pleased, hell. They’ll be goddamned thrilled.

There is considerably more to be said on this subject, and I will turn to that when I conclude the earlier article.

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For More Information about anger as the fuel to launch the reform of America

  1. Now is the time for America to get angry, 24 March 2009
  2. The first step on the road to America’s reform, 29 May 2009
  3. As we finish a dark 2012, what will we see in 2013 of The New America?, 26 November 2013
  4. We’ve worked through all 5 stages of grief for the Republic. Now, on to The New America!, 8 January 2013

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