Today is the deadline for the government to release four Bush-era memos from the Office of Legal Counsel that reportedly contain graphic descriptions of authorized "enhanced interrogation techniques." Marc Ambinder has speculated that the memos will be released but the most offensive material may be redacted. I'm inclined to agree with Ambinder, given the divisions within the executive branch over the memos' release and Obama's own political instincts, he's likely to split the baby. Of course, the whole point of that story was that splitting the baby was a really bad idea, wasn't it?
In other news, it turns out that giving the NSA nigh-unlimited surveillance powers ends with the NSA abusing its authority.
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.
Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.
An FBI inspector general reportedly believes there is evidence of "serious misconduct" in the implementation of the surveillance program. At least one member of Congress was wiretapped without a warrant in 2005 or 2006; Spencer Ackerman seems to believe it could be John Kerry.
No one could have possibly anticipated the
breach of the levees that giving the NSA the authority to eavesdrop on American citizens with almost no oversight would lead to them abusing that authority. Kevin Drum seems to think that having one of their own be a target of warrantless surveillance might spur Congress to act. But among the things we've learned in the hubbub over the DHS' reports on right-wing and left-wing extremism, is that for some people, there's nothing strange about cheering on a surveillance state when it comes to others and complaining about tyranny when that police state turns its eyes on you.
-- A. Serwer