When the Federalist Papers were written to convince the voters of what had been the original thirteen colonies that ratifying the Constitution was a good idea, one of the most important "selling points" was the way in which the Constitution established a system of checks and balances, under which no individual component of the government would be able to exercise total authoritarian control. It is thus no surprise that those who have tried to defend the actions of the National Security Administration (NSA) tried to make the case that they were as subject to such checks and balances as any other part of the Federal Government. This is where Cole makes one of his strongest points:
The only parties kept out of the “checks and balances” so often lauded by the NSA’s defenders were the American and global publics—in other words, the people whose privacy was at stake.In other words, while there was a "regulatory chain of command" for reviewing NSA activities, those who most needed to express their offense at having been violated by those activities had no path through which to make their concern heard. Even if the the member of the House of Representatives elected to for their district was sympathetic, his/her hands were tied by the strands of the bureaucratic spider web woven by the wording of NSA regulations.
This, it is not only personal privacy that has been undermined and would well have gone unnoticed were it not for Snowden's whistle-blowing, it is that set of "principles of operation" according to which our government works, as it was explained to the first citizens of our country by the authors of the Federalist Papers.