So, as every one should now know, the government is collecting a vast amount of phone data from, well, every one. Leaving aside whether this is a good idea, whose program it is, who is responsible, and even whether it is constitutional, it does raise an interesting question in light of that last one, namely...who determines whether a secret program(ie one no one but the government knows about) is legal or constitutional? It isn't like people can file suit, since no one knows about it, it is secret. I was thinking about this aspect today while out wandering the yard picking up dog poop(reason # 2,354,646,574,321 why I hate dogs), and as my mind wandered I started thinking how oversite could be applied to such programs.
For oversight to work, you would need a panel of people from both ends of the political spectrum. They would have to rule in confidence, obviously. Congress would have to have some level of oversite. This is what I came up with.
- The house Judiciary committee would draft a set of nominees, 3 selected by the majority party, 3 selected by the minority party, each can veto any of the other parties nominations
- The Senate Judiciary committee would vote on each nominee. If any candidate is voted down, the house Judiciary committee would pick another
- The panel would serve 2 year terms.
- The panel would consider each and every secret program before such a program is implemented. They will consider whether the program is both constitutional and legal outside of the constitution. That is the only aspects they consider, not whether it is a good program, not whether they think it is a good idea, just legality and constitutionality.
- The panel would vote on each program, with a requirement of 4 out of 6 panelists voting yes for the program to be implemented(2/3 yes vote).
- The government could if it disagrees with the panel appeal once, straight to the Supreme Court. Supreme court ruling would be final
- All rulings would, for obvious reasons, be secret.
The idea here is for there to be oversite, for it to be politically neutral as much as possible, for secrets to be kept secret, and still have a way to ensure that no administration, republican or democrat or both, secretly violates the laws or constitution.
So the poll question...would this work, and is it a good idea, and are there issues with my proposal I have not properly considered.