Detailed Study Suggests NSA Rarely Useful In Stopping Terrorism

from the but-fear! dept

While we've already seen multiple detailed analyses of why the NSA's bulk collection of email data under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act hasn't been particularly helpful in stopping any real terrorist attacks on the US, there are still other NSA programs as well. The folks over at the New America Foundation have put out a detailed new report looking at whether any of the NSA's programs have been effective. The report finds, exactly as everyone else has, that the Section 215 effort was only helpful in finding one guy who sent some money to Somalia. However, more importantly, it also looks at the other big NSA program, the one that comes under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act which includes (among other things) the PRISM program that got a lot of attention. Once again, the evidence of 702's usefulness is fairly minimal. The report finds that it was used in less than 5% of investigations of people charged with terrorism since 9/11.

The full report looks at all 225 individuals who were either part of Al Qaeda or an associated group and charged with terrorism since 9/11. In looking over every plot they were involved in, you see that much more traditional means of catching terrorists were involved in almost every case. There are community/family tips, informants, other non-NSA intelligence, routine law enforcement, self-disclosed by publicizing his own extremist activity, "suspicious activity" reports... and of course, plots that weren't actually prevented. There is, to be fair, a large number of plots where the discovery is from "unclear" means -- and it's entirely possible that some of those were discovered under the Section 702 programs. However, at the very least, this calls into question just how valuable either of these key NSA efforts really are.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    icon
    Violynne (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 6:29am

    The actions of the NSA is terrorism.

    It makes sense there's not stopping it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 7:10am

    Unclear methods are actually Tim's articles about stupid criminals posting their intents on Facebook or butt dialing to the police while explaining their evil plots in ominous voices to their teddy bears.

    Techdirt: preventing terrorist plots since 1997. Eat it NSA!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 7:51am

    So, bets on how much of that 27.6% that's unclear is the result of the NSA engaging in parallel construction to obscure their involvement so that their methods couldn't be challenged in court?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:07am

    Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    Since this irrelevant Masnicking is all he's up to.

    First, despite Mike's blithe assurance that the Aereo case would drag on, he's WRONG yet again:

    US Supreme Court to hear media barons versus TV upstart Aereo tout suite

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/13/supreme_court_agrees_to_hear_aereo_case_toot_suite/

    And Mike's support of Google for its no or limited patent stance is turning out betrayed by his precious:

    Sniff, sniff, what's that burning smell? Oh, it's Google's patent-filing office working flat out

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/14/google_hits_the_patent_bigtime_reports/

    I particularly like the next; nobody in the real world likes weenies cutting in:

    Oh those crazy Frenchies! Parisian cabbies smash up Uber-booked rival ride
    Votre app américain sale n'a pas été cherché ici, imbécile!


    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/14/french_cabbies_revolt_against_uber/

    All the news you saw last week on other sites, re-written to cherry pick points that fit Mike's agenda.

    04:04:20[f-17-2]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:09am

    Re:

    "stupid criminals posting their intents on Facebook"

    Facebook prevents terrorists. Maybe the government ought to throw money at them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re:

    You can't prevent government terror without accountability.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:26am

    Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    I was pretty sure the limited patent stance from Google that Mike had was that Google wasn't using patents offensively. It has been a while so I am not positive though. But, if so, all you have done is supported that claim as Google is using them defensively. Also, why don't you create you own blog if you don't care what Mike posts?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    Cathy does have a blog, but it's unpopular, so she comes here to grift off Mike's. It's what people who believe they have a right to be heard (AKA narcissists) do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:34am

    Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    I particularly like the next; nobody in the real world likes weenies cutting in:

    Oh those crazy Frenchies! Parisian cabbies smash up Uber-booked rival ride
    Votre app américain sale n'a pas été cherché ici, imbécile!



    Are you really cheering the malicious destruction of private property owned by those who simply choose to compete in a previously monopolized business?

    This is a new low, even for you, Blue. I guess the moral standards that you attempted to impart on the unwashed masses here are as hypocritical as the rest of your rhetoric.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Wally (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:37am

    1.3%

    That 1.3% from an unknown authority...Obama Administration perhaps?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:44am

    how could they be? they're too interested in what 'joe down the road' had for tea!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    krolork (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:44am

    We need a revolution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    It's not the right to be heard nutjobs are in a tizzy about, it's the right to force us to listen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Ruben, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    I thought we resolved to stop engaging this hack?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Mega1987 (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 10:51am

    numbers.....

    I wonder if those guys in the US senate divides the traditional and multiplies the NSA investigation both by 10?

    cause most of them pretty much implying that NSA does more than the old-school investigation when going against terrorism... Judging the figures given in this topic.

    about stopping the plot? Unless you're a Seer that can see the future to rewrite it.... then you're an idiot trying to play fortune teller saying your PREDICTIONS are 100% accurate when a weather forecaster got better accuracy rate than yours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Alana (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    You have no reason to call OOTB "Cathy" other than "Oh they're acting like this THEY MUST be a girl".

    That's incredibly sexist, so I'm reporting any post made with this assertion. Period.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    Pragmatic isn't actually being sexist. He believes Blue to be a specific person actually named Cathy. I don't know if he's correct or not (and I don't really care, it's irrelevant), but that's the reason he uses the name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    Votre connaissance du français aspire aussi mauvais que vos compétences à la logique.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Alana (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 7:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    Oh, okay. ... Still feels like a bit of a stretch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 4:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    I believe the first time it was stated, it was either linked to or mentioned the blog in the comment making the assertion.

    Like John, I didn't care enough to follow up on it. I don't read their posts here, why go to their blog to not read them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Guess posting more interesting links is all I can do to protest this re-hash.

    Are you kidding? A response to them was given first word. Their posts and responses to them have increased since.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 1:44pm

    But. We. Stopped. Dangerous. Pirates!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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