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It's bad enough that National Security Agency (NSA) General Counsel Raj De lied through his teeth in testimony in front of the President’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), yesterday, as he outright weaseled around a litany of inconvenient truths demonstrating, repeatedly, how his employer has avoided House and Senate Judiciary Committee oversight, and Capitol Hill oversight of the Agency's actions, in general, since 9/11. (Note: Despite propaganda to the contrary, the respective Intelligence Committees of those two august bodies have no excuse!) Marcy Wheeler, who’s (IMHO) been doing Pulitzer-worthy work covering the NSA story from the get-go, has plenty more on this over at her Emptywheel blog.

(As Newsweek headlined it a month ago, Marcy really is, “The Woman Who Knows The NSA’s Secrets.”)

But, what went relatively unnoticed by most of the MSM over the past day’s news cycle was a pretty incredulous statement made by Raj De at that hearing that McClatchy and a few other, more observant media outlets did manage to pick-up…

NSA official cites ‘stop and frisk’ in effort to explain searches of phone records
Ali Watkins
McClatchy Washington Bureau
November 4, 2013 (Updated)

WASHINGTON — The general counsel of the National Security Agency on Monday compared the agency’s telephone metadata collection program to the highly controversial “stop-and-frisk” practice used by law enforcement officers, saying the agency uses that same standard to choose which phone numbers to query in its database.

“It’s effectively the same standard as stop-and-frisk,” Rajesh De said in an attempt to explain the evidentiary use of “reasonable and articulable suspicion” to identify which phone numbers to target from the agency’s huge database of stored cellphone records.

De made the comment during a rare hearing of an obscure government body, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which Congress created in 2004 to oversee the government’s expanded intelligence collection operations but which until Monday had never held a substantive hearing.

De’s comparison was perhaps unfortunate…

Of course, as McClatchy notes in updates to their story, many hours later, an NSA spokesperson and even De, himself, attempted to walk back the statement.

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