NSA Goes From Saying Bulk Metadata Collection 'Saves Lives' To 'Prevented 54 Attacks' To 'Well, It's A Nice Insurance Policy'
from the this-is-why-no-one-trusts-them dept
Want to know why no one trusts anything NSA officials and their defenders have to say any more? When the bulk metadata collection was first revealed, those defenders went on and on about how the program “saved countless lives” and was instrumental in stopping terrorist attacks. Some skeptics then asked what terrorist attacks, and we were told “around 50” though details weren’t forthcoming. Eventually, we were told that the real number was “54 terrorist events” (note: not attacks) and a review of them later revealed that basically none of them were legitimate. There was one “event” prevented via the program on US soil, and it was a taxi driver in San Diego sending some money to a terrorist group in Somalia, rather than an actual terrorist attack.
In fact, both judges and the intelligence task force seemed shocked at the lack of any actual evidence to support that these programs were useful.
And yet, the NSA and its defenders keep insisting that they’re necessary. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, a few months ago, tried out a new spin, claiming that effectiveness wasn’t the right metric, but rather “peace of mind.” Of course, the obvious response to that is to point out that spying on everyone makes most of us fairly uneasy, and we’d have a lot more “peace of mind” if they dropped the program.
And, now, the NSA number 2 guy, who’s about to retire, John C. “Chris” Inglis, gave a long interview with NPR, in which he is now claiming that even if the program hasn’t been particularly useful in the past, that “it’s a good insurance policy.”
“I’m not going to give that insurance policy up, because it’s a necessary component to cover a seam that I can’t otherwise cover.”
Basically, we want to keep this information because we want that information, even if it’s not been shown to be at all useful. Of course, that’s the same logic one can use to defend just about any violation of the 4th Amendment. Putting a private drone with a camera and a recording device streaming everything it sees and hears while following around NSA deputy director Chris Inglis may not discover that he’s a corrupt bureaucrat willing to lie to the public, but it seems like a reasonable “insurance policy” to make sure he stays honest. After all, without that, the American public can’t prove that he’s not corrupt — so it seems like a reasonable “insurance policy to cover a seam we can’t otherwise cover.” At least, in the logic of Chris Inglis.