Rep Stockman asks NSA for Lerner email metadata

It's an interesting idea. When I mentioned it, I was mostly joking, though I did think it was worth a try. There are a few possible reasons this won't work, aside from the NSA simply refusing.

Lois Lerner is, obviously, a US person. The NSA says they exclude US persons. This is probably true, with the understanding that there is no way to know if an email address belongs to a US person or not -- so in practice, the NSA doesn't exclude anybody unless they KNOW the email address belongs to a US person, and they carefully ensure they don't know that. But a specific request for a specific US person? It's an excuse to refuse.

Furthermore, Lerner is a US person who works for the government. The NSA operates by installing equipment at the network facilities of large ISPs or breaking into servers. They are unlikely to break into servers run by the government, and government email traffic may not travel along the internet pathways the NSA is listening for.

Finally, we're talking about email content going back 3-5 years. I don't know how long the NSA retains email metadata, but it's probably not forever.

None of those reasons mean the NSA definitely does not have this information, but the first one in particular is a great opportunity for the NSA to secure PR points by saying they don't listen to US citizens. This would be misleading, but they have not been shy about being misleading in the past.

Still, Stockman gets points for making the official request. It's a good bit of political aikido, and it just might work.

This entry was published Sat Jun 14 14:27:52 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2014-06-14 14:15:45.0. [Tweet]

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