...And the Power Remains the Same

For anyone who is concerned about government spying on U.S. citizens without warrants (or without significant Fourth Amendment scrutiny) in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations, this news is probably disconcerting:

The Obama administration has decided to preserve a controversial arrangement by which a single military official is permitted to direct both the National Security Agency and the military’s cyberwarfare command, U.S. officials said.

The decision by President Obama comes amid signs that the White House is not inclined to impose significant new restraints on the NSA’s activities — especially its collection of data on virtually every phone call Americans make — although it is likely to impose additional privacy protection measures.

It should be noted that reading further in the article produces no mention whatsoever of "additional privacy protection measures." There is no indication what these measures would be or what privacy interests they would be designed to protect. No person quoted in the article discusses this topic at all.

As for the crux of the article, this passage is especially troubling to me:

“Following a thorough interagency review, the administration has decided that keeping the positions of NSA Director and Cyber Command Commander together as one, dual-hatted position is the most effective approach to accomplishing both agencies’ missions,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in an e-mail to The Washington Post.

I have previously written about the rationalized mindset which drives national security policy. When the NSA and Pentagon are tasked with analyzing their spying operations, the questions of whether or not the spying is a good idea or whether it's illegal or whether it's just plain futile in general are not considered. The only analysis is "what is the most effective means for accomplishing the mission?" No review of the mission itself is conducted, just the organization of the means to "accomplish" it (regardless of whether or not the mission can in fact be accomplished).

Unfortunately, the only means that seems to be appropriate for the NSA's mission is the vacuuming of all electronic information everywhere regardless of the limitations placed on the government by the Bill of Rights. No further review necessary.