David Cole on privacy in NYRB:
‘So what can we say about the effectiveness of the NSA metadata program? On this question, the Privacy Board’s report is devastating. The board had access to classified information, and held classified briefings with NSA and other security officials. It pointedly asked for evidence of the program’s utility. In its report, the board painstakingly analyzes each of the various “success stories” that the government has touted. Its conclusion could not be more stark:
We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation. Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.
Reviewing seven years of the NSA amassing comprehensive records on every American’s every phone call, the board identified only one case in which the program actually identified an unknown terrorist suspect. And that case involved not an act or even an attempted act of terrorism, but merely a young man who was trying to send money to Al-Shabaab, an organization in Somalia. If that’s all the NSA can show for a program that requires all of us to turn over to the government the records of our every phone call, is it really worth it?’
(Read the article here.)
So the telephone record program is useless when it comes to fighting terrorism.
Does this program have other objectives?
Perhaps the NSA would like to tame the beast inside us all?
My understanding is that NSA is a church, fighting sin with unconventional means.