It's like Deja Vu all over again.
"I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism."
And as one member of the President's NSA Review Panel puts it, the lack of practical effectiveness of the NSA's mass surveillance program, "was stunning."
by Michael Isikoff, NBC News National Investigative Correspondent -- 2013/12/20
While Stone said the mass collection of telephone call records was a “logical program” from the NSA’s perspective, one question the White House panel was seeking to answer was whether it had actually stopped “any [terror attacks] (sic) that might have been really big.”
“We found none,” said Stone [Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor, and the only member of without any intelligence community experience
The panel made that recommendation after concluding that the program was “not essential in preventing attacks.”
“That was stunning. That was the ballgame,” said one congressional intelligence official, who asked not to be publicly identified. “It flies in the face of everything that they have tossed at us.”
At least now those "stunning" conclusions are written in black and white, in a official report, for our "pubic leaders" to review at their leisure, over their fund-raising Holiday Eggnog's.
Not only should it be game-over for the NSA's mass surveillance program, it should be time for an entire new set of citizen Umpires, if you ask us "stunned" Americans about it.
For those who like to read beyond the headlines, here's the actual section of the Review Report, that law professor Stone referred to, in their Efficacy-MIA conclusions ...
Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group
on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
12 December 2013
E. Section 215 and the Bulk Collection of Telephony Meta-data
1. The Program
[... pg 104]
NSA believes that on at least a few occasions, information derived from the section 215 bulk telephony meta-data program has contributed to its efforts to prevent possible terrorist attacks, either in the United States or somewhere else in the world. More often, negative results from section 215 queries have helped to alleviate concern that particular terrorist suspects are in contact with co-conspirators in the United States. Our review suggests that the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders. Moreover, there is reason for caution about the view that the program is efficacious in alleviating concern about possible terrorist connections, given the fact that the meta-data captured by the program covers only a portion of the records of only a few telephone service providers.
* * * * * * * * *
The bulk telephony meta-data collection program has experienced several significant compliance issues. For example, in March 2009, the FISC learned that for two-and-a-half years NSA had searched all incoming phone meta-data using an “alert list” of phone numbers of possible terrorists that had been created for other purposes. Almost 90 percent of the numbers on the alert list did not meet the “reasonable, articulable suspicion” standard.
FISC Judge Reggie Walton concluded that the minimization procedures had been “so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall . . . regime has never functioned effectively.” Although finding that the noncompliance was unintentional, and was due to misunderstandings on the part of analysts about the precise rules governing their use of the meta-data, Judge Walton concluded “that the government’s failure to ensure that responsible officials adequately understood NSA’s alert list process, and to accurately report its implementation to the Court, has prevented, for more than two years, both the government and the FISC from taking steps to remedy daily violations of the minimization procedures set forth in FISC orders and designed to protect . . . call details pertaining to telephone communications of US persons located within the United States who are not the subject of any . . . investigation and whose call detail information could not otherwise have been legally captured in bulk.”
Question: If your Designated Batter on your favorite Baseball Team, keeps hitting .000 all season long -- Do you keep him in the line-up, even during the Play-offs?
Well, that's a No-brainer! ... How much more so, should it be obvious that the NSA's Bulk Data Collection program needs be, sent packing, back down to the Minor Leagues too, if not dis-banded in its entirely.
"No Run, No Hits ... and about a Billion Errors!" They should be "OUTTA THERE!!!"
Post Script: If you like reading the actual specifics in the actual report -- instead of the rhetorical commentary on them, I would direct you here:
Extra, Extra -- Read All About It! The NSA is under Serious Review
by jamess -- Dec 21, 2013
where some other Key Report Recommendations and author conclusions are highlighted, with minimal editorial commentary, from the requisite postmaster peanut galley.
And thank you for staying informed. Civic-minded sporting events, they're just not for Baseball, anymore ... Just Check/Don't Check your Cell Phone messages ... because you never know who's umpiring the play.