Here’s a simple way to tell if there is or isn’t meaningful oversight:
Given the known cases of NSA staff using state surveillance for illegal stalking (“LoveInt”), how many have been jailed as felons?
What - not even a single misdemeanor?!!
The NSA has no meaningful oversight or accountability.
That kind of auditing system certainly does work, and it works even if it’s fictional. When I worked at the IRS, we had something similar. We were told the watchmen could observe our every keystroke, so don’t screw around. Specifically, accessing the files of celebrities, family members, or your own tax file would - allegedly - earn you a quick trip out the front door.
We never actually knew anybody this happened to, but that’s mainly because the deterrent was so very effective. My best guess is that the auditing system was real, but they just sampled a few workers at random. Like the cameras in department stores, there doesn’t have to be a watcher - the camera itself is a powerful deterrent.
I’m willing to bet the system at NSA is even stronger than the one at IRS - but their spooks are also way way smarter about getting around the safeguards than us IRS monkeys. Probably the “loveint” guys did a fair job of covering their tracks, and the government really doesn’t like taking anything to court unless the evidence is ironclad.
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