Governments sometimes do nasty things to protect it citizens — or say they have to do them — with some governments willing to do more nastier things than others.
What governments have in common is they don’t want the public to know what they’re doing in the name of security.
That is true more than ever in the United States, where in recent court filings Washington continues to claim information about the activities of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) are secret and beyond the reach of the judiciary.
The news comes from Ars Technica via the New York Times, which says the Obama administration is trying to prevent a California judge from ruling on the constitutionality of is warrantless surveillance program.
According to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden the NSA has been collecting metadata about Americans’ email and phone calls in 2001.
Interestingly, the government court filings confirm Snowden’s claim.
The issue, of course, is not that intelligence agencies collect the data but whether it is done with the knowledge of elected officials and what needs to be collected without a warrant.
To that end some have suggested that in Canada it’s time for a committee of Parliament to oversee activities of our counterpart to the NSA, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
According to the Ottawa Citizen, CSIS was recently slapped by a Federal Court judge which granted a warrant to intercept communications of two suspects in Canada, then illegally farmed the interception out to other countries’ spy agencies when the suspects left Canada.
In 2014 there will likely be increasing pressure on Parliament to publicly discuss what intelligence agencies here can and cannot do and what oversight they need.