Oversight Theatre

Julian Sanchez coins a term:

We have what appear to be an array of monitoring mechanisms in place to check intelligence surveillance, but the watchdogs will in practice often lack a full picture of what they’re supposed to be overseeing. During the Bush administration, a handful of legislators were briefed on the National Security’s Agency’s program of warrantless wiretapping, but one of those few, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), has since asserted that she didn’t understand the program was being conducted beyond the limits of FISA, because she was forbidden from consulting attorneys with expertise in that obscure and complex statute.