James Clapper Says Feds Will Start Releasing Some FISA And NSL Metadata, But Not The Kind That Matters
from the it's-just-metadata... dept
We were just mocking the government’s position that it cannot reveal the “metadata” on the numbers of FISA orders (and the number of people impacted) when those same people insist that we shouldn’t worry about many NSA surveillance programs since they’re “just metadata.” And, now, the Director of National Intelligence has said that it will begin releasing some metadata on some key programs that had been secret before:
Specifically, for each of the following categories of national security authorities, the IC will release the total number of orders issued during the prior twelve-month period, and the number of targets affected by these orders:
- FISA orders based on probable cause ( Titles I and III of FISA, and sections 703 and 704).
- Section 702 of FISA
- FISA Business Records (Title V of FISA).
- FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace ( Title IV of FISA)
- National Security Letters issued pursuant to 12 U.S.C. &sec; 3414(a)(5), 15 U.S.C. &sec;&sec; 1681u(a) and (b), 15 U.S.C. &sec; 1681v, and 18 U.S.C. &sec; 2709.
Our ability to discuss these activities is limited by our need to protect intelligence sources and methods.
For what it’s worth this is a step forward — and something the government should have done ages ago, but perhaps not nearly as big as Clapper would like everyone to believe. Note that they only say they’ll reveal the number of “targets” rather than people impacted. Given that each person “targeted” may lead to scooping up records on many, many others, this seems fairly weak. Remember, for a “target” they can scoop up all kinds of records, and then go three hops deep. So, one target could impact thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of people. This is a baby step forward, but it still seems designed to mislead.