Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fourth branch of government

In today's silly season document dump, George Bush has implemented what seems like a major reconfiguration of his spy agencies. Here's one intriguing section --

1.11 The Department of Homeland Security. In addition to the authorities exercised by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis of the Department of Homeland Security under sections 1.4 and 1.7(i) of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall conduct, through the United States Secret Service, activities to determine the existence and capability of surveillance equipment being used against the President or the Vice President of the United States, the Executive Office of the President, and, as authorized by the Secretary of Homeland Security or the President, other Secret Service protectees and United States officials. No information shall be acquired intentionally through such activities except to protect against use of such surveillance equipment, and those activities shall be conducted pursuant to procedures agreed upon by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General.

In other words, the securocrats get to test surveillance equipment on executive branch offices, just to make sure that no one else could do the same thing. But remember that Dick Cheney has argued that he has legislative branch functions as president of the Senate. Is there anything in that order that stops the securocrats from spying on the Senate through the link to Cheney, and "unintentionally" letting that information be used by the executive branch?

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