The one group that found a fruitful bonanza on the dark dreary day of 9/11 was the intelligence community who suddenly were gifted a new excuse for life intrusions. Basically anything they wanted was signed off by the President and co-signed by most of Congress, the media, judges, and the local media. In this embarrassment of riches regarding life intrusions the security was able to obtain data that was more than they could handle. Instead of partitioning what was useful, potential useful, and useless, like the hungry ghosts they were, the intelligence community’s appetite was never abated.
The sad thing about these life intrusions is that they not only affected the community who found their privacy violated but adversely affected the intelligence community who found that the huge increase of data made it harder to discern what was useful. What was once a needle in a haystack became a needle in the field of haystacks.
One program from those giddy give them anything they want days is on its way out. As TS said, “not with a bang but a whimper” and for that I am glad. Our fear causes us to act like a cowering whimpering dog, giving up everything way too soon. Unfortunately there will always be catastrophic events and our response to it or them will measure us much as a people*.
“To its supporters, the program was a critical counterterrorism tool. “There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots…Taking the program off the table, from my perspective, is absolutely not the right thing to do,” said former NSA director Keith Alexander to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013. Michael Hayden, another former NSA chief, and former attorney general Michael Mukasey said in a joint op-ed that the reform law was “exquisitely crafted to hobble the gathering of electronic intelligence.” After the terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago, there was even a failed last-ditch effort to restart the bulk phone records program.”
“But privacy advocates say the record tells a different story. “That program hasn’t prevented or even contributed to preventing a single attack in the [nearly] 15 years that it’s been in operation,” says Elizabeth Goitein, the co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.”
“Think tank reports on the program have backed her up. “There does not appear to be a case in which…bulk phone records played an important role in stopping a terrorist attack,” wrote Marshall Erwin in a January 2014 report from the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank. His counterparts at the nonpartisan but liberal-leaning New America Foundation found the same thing in a study that was released in the same month as Erwin’s report. “Surveillance of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism,” wrote national security journalist Peter Bergen and three others in the New America study.”
“…The government hasn’t provided much more compelling evidence. The study from New America noted that President Barack Obama once claimed bulk surveillance had stopped at least 50 terrorist plots, but Alexander eventually admitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee that there was actually only one such case, in which a San Diego cab driver had attempted to send money to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. Richard Leon, the federal judge who ruled the bulk metadata program illegal in 2013, wrote that there was an “utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics.”
“Late last year, a trio of Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee—Oregon’s Ron Wyden, Colorado’s Mark Udall, and New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich—filed a brief in support of a lawsuit against bulk surveillance, saying they had “reviewed this surveillance extensively and have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through means that caused far less harm to the privacy interests of millions of Americans.”
“In fact, say privacy advocates, bulk surveillance can actually hurt intelligence rather than strengthen it. “Part of the problem is that the analysts were drowning in data,” Goitein says, citing the 9/11 Commission Report as evidence. “There was too much information, and the threats got lost in the noise. So more surveillance isn’t the answer.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/americas-most-useless-surveillance-program-finally-almost-over
*Unfortunately our response to the Paris terrorist attacks regarding the Syrian refugees has been less than stellar.