Declassified Documents Prove NSA's Bulk Metadata Collections Completely Unnecessary
from the but...-but...-haystacks! dept
Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have posted a statement in response to the NSA's compelled release of declassified documents. The statement points out that Americans will now have a better grasp on the size of the "iceberg" that once lay hidden below the barely-visible tip.
Wyden and Udall go on to state that what's been released in these documents indicates that the bulk metadata collection programs the NSA swears are so essential to its counterterrorism efforts are clearly unnecessary.
In addition to providing further information about how bulk phone records collection came under great FISA Court scrutiny due to serious and on-going compliance violations, these documents show that the court actually limited the NSA’s access to its bulk phone records database for much of 2009. The court required the NSA to seek case-by-case approval to access bulk phone records until these compliance violations were addressed. In our judgment, the fact that the FISA Court was able to handle these requests on an individual basis is further evidence that intelligence agencies can get all of the information they genuinely need without engaging in the dragnet surveillance of huge numbers of law-abiding Americans.All the violations of civil liberties have likewise been unnecessary and the supposed high wire act of "balancing" privacy concerns with national security is swiftly being proven to be just that: an act. If the NSA was able to still operate under these restrictions, its claims that only huge haystacks have the capability of producing needles is demonstrably false. General Alexander's desire to grab all the data has had a markedly deleterious effect on the agency's ability to operate within the guidelines set down by the FISA court.
Udall and (especially) Wyden have been muted in their attempts to warn US citizens about the data harvesting occurring just out of sight. But Ed Snowden's leaks have forced the issue into broad daylight, vindicating these senators' rigid stance against the increasing reach of our nation's security agencies.
As they say, the NSA's bulk records collection is not only a "significant threat to the constitutional liberties" of American citizens, it's also a "needless" one. The second half of that statement is the most damaging. Abuses, overreach and data collections amassed for the sake of collecting data -- an ultimately all for nothing.