TriggerFinger


NSA recommends dropping phone surveillance of Americans


Conservative TreeHouse quoting Wall Street JournalThe National Security Agency has recommended that the White House abandon a U.S. surveillance program that collects information about Americans’ phone calls and text messages, saying the logistical and legal burdens of keeping it outweigh its intelligence benefits, according to people familiar with the matter.

The recommendation against seeking the renewal of the once-secret spying program amounts to an about-face by the agency, which had long argued in public and to congressional overseers that the program was vital to the task of finding and disrupting terrorism plots against the U.S.

The latest view is rooted in a growing belief among senior intelligence officials that the spying program provides limited value to national security and has become a logistical headache.

Frustrations about legal-compliance issues forced the NSA to halt use of the program earlier this year, the people said. Its legal authority will expire in December unless Congress reauthorizes it.

My feeling is that this program has never been useful for tracking terrorists, despite prior claims to that effect. It may be useful for tracking spies, except that spies know about it and know to avoid it. Even that claim deserves skepticism. The amount of data to sort through and the ease of avoiding entry into the surveillance database by professions while ordinary American's communications are available for known and documented abuse (80%+ of queries of this database in the lead up to 2016 election were legally unjustified) means that the program needs to be shut down.

My hunch is that NSA is only recommending this because they want to be able to tell the courts later that the program is already shut down, nothing to worry about, our audits worked. That would allow them to start it up again and protect other programs they may have that do similar things (such as collecting all American's email traffic).

So, yes, this program must end. I'd rather it end by court order, though.

This entry was published Thu Apr 25 08:55:25 CDT 2019 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2019-04-25 08:55:25.0. [Tweet]

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