The Deep State Stands Its Ground

On Friday the NSA‘s FISA court authorization to collect metadata on (at least) all American phone conversations, which was due to expire July 19 at 5 pm, was renewed. Surprise! The oracular press release from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was reported by the Guardian.

Robert Lady, former CIA Milan station chief, was convicted in absentia by Italy for the 2003 kidnapping, in Italy, and “rendering” (read: delivered unto torturers in Egypt) of an Egyptian who was living in Italy after having been granted political asylum from the Mubarak regime by Italy. Mr. Lady was recently located in Panama. Italy requested that he be extradited to serve his prison sentence. But Panama put him on a plane to the U.S. a couple of days ago, reports Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian yesterday. The moral high ground regarding the rule of law seems to be expendable.

Brian Hauck of the Dept. of Justice asserted Friday before a federal judge that “Americans targeted overseas do have rights” but “they could not be enforced in court either before or after the Americans were killed.” Hauck noted that decisions on targeting “are made at the highest levels of the executive branch, with robust consultation with Congress,” to which (Republican-appointed) judge Rosemary Collyer replied, “No, no, no. The executive is not an effective check on the executive with regard to an individual’s rights. you cannot ask a judge to hold that only the Executive will check himself… (The Constitutional limit) is the courthouse door. And yet you say there is no courthouse door” (sources Scotusblog, Guardian, NYT, NPR blog The Two-Way).

The judge in the Bradley Manning trial upheld the validity the other day of the “aiding the enemy” charge. The problem with this from a First Amendment standpoint is that it amounts to defining the media as the enemy (see Harvard Law professor Yochai Benkler’s comment piece published in the July 19 Guardian expanding on this), which is what the dni.gov press release implied as well. Probably not a good omen for our future as a democratic republic.

Will the veneer of legality in all these distinct but related stories be thoughtlessly equated with constitutional legitimacy? The deep state is counting on it.

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