September 12, 2014 - by Josh Levy.
In December 1981 President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333, giving U.S. intelligence agencies more power to direct federal agencies to conduct surveillance. More than 20 years later, George W. Bush signed two more executive orders that strengthened and expanded these same powers. President Obama has continued the legacy of, and expanded his administration's authority under, the order. Executive orders are not the result of debated legislation — they're embodiments of executive authority, rendered unilaterally and, on occasion, secretly — and as such they aren't subject to oversight or review by the judiciary or by Congress, much less scrutiny from the general public.