No governmental entity shall conduct secret or covert proceedings absent ongoing oversight by a multi-partisan body of popularly elected officials.
While recent revelations about the NSA’s secret domestic surveillance activities are genuinely disturbing and ought to concern every citizen, it is also true that the United States has enemies, some of them capable of inflicting significant damage and disrupting the peaceful course of our lives.
No one questions the need for vigilance, but secret governmental agencies accountable to no one are not to be tolerated by a nation that hopes to remain free. If our security arises from programs that destroy our liberty, then it’s very much like the popular saying: the terrorists have won.
It seems patently obvious that complete openness and transparency on the part of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies would be a bad idea. Secrecy is necessary to insure the efficacy of legitimate investigations and also to assure the safety of agency personnel.
The question then becomes how to provide for legitimate security and law enforcement activities without compromising the liberties of the citizenry?
Amendment VIII proposes that oversight be entrusted to an elected multi-partisan review body. The mechanism for this process may exist within the legislature, or the legislature may establish an independent commission to conduct periodic reviews. In no case shall entities like the CIA, FBI, the NSA or Homeland Security operate without oversight.