NSA Official Positively Compares Metadata Searches To Stop And Frisk
from the an-apt-comparison,-but-hardly-in-the-way-he-means-it dept
There's a huge disconnect between the mindset of the intelligence community and everyone else outside it. Considering the majority still lies with those on the outside, you'd think they'd make more of an effort to connect. But, as this statement, made to the PCLOB (Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board), indicates the gap hasn't narrowed in the slightest.
Employees at the National Security Agency follow the same standards as controversial "stop and frisk" policies when accessing phone surveillance data, intelligence officials said Tuesday.It simply cannot be stressed enough that you need to choose your words wisely when discussing programs that are already suspected of violating civil liberties. Comparing them to something just as controversial only calls the programs into further question, not to mention Rajesh De's judgement.
Though the agency collects data about all U.S. phone calls, NSA employees need to demonstrate “reasonable and articulable suspicion” when they want to access that phone call data.
"It’s effectively the same standard as stop and frisk,” NSA General Counsel Rajesh De said during a hearing held by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which supervises anti-terrorism surveillance programs.
A board member called De out on this, pointing out the NYPD's program is hardly without its problems, seeing as it's currently the subject of multiple lawsuits including two high-profile cases in federal courts. Having been apprised of developments outside the intelligence bubble, the officials "amended their claim," so to speak.
The intelligence officials defended their version of the process, saying that searches of the phone call database are subject to more oversight than police officers who stop and frisk people on the street.Well, one would hope so, considering the particular "cops on the street" Rajash De compared NSA analysts to have had very little oversight over their program, which simply requires an officer to fill out a small form and check some boxes ("furtive movement") in order to justify shoving someone up against the wall.
As it stands now (especially with the City's stay being granted), stop and frisk hardly even needs "reasonable suspicion." Supposedly the NSA does, but again, we're expected to take officials' word on this, and any references De (or anyone else) makes towards "oversight" should probably be ignored. "Oversight" is the ideal, not the reality. The same goes for the NYPD, which has been granted (like the NSA) an extremely long leash by indulgent overseers (Mayor Bloomberg/intelligence committees).
DNI counsel Robert Litt added that the "actual degree of intrusion" when the agency searches the (not officially a) collection is much less than that of a stop and frisk search. Well, I would hope so. For one thing, no one's pockets are being turned out or having their crotch region manhandled. If they were, there'd be a whole lot fewer unnoticed privacy violations, much to the chagrin of Mike Rogers.