David B. Grinberg
FYI, Henry. While I know we have respectfully agreed to disagree on these issues, let's at least try to keep the scope of the alleged "questionable" phone records surveillance in the appropriate context in terms of how many citizen phone records the NSA actually looked at. Short answer, hardly any.
To wit: According to the latest declassified info, the NSA only looked at a tiny fraction of a fraction of phone records out of countless billions -- which, by the way, apparently helped thwart terrorist plots which have been well documented.
I think Chairman Rogers offers a good explanation of how the program works (below). Lastly, let's also keep in mind that these programs have PROTECTED Americans from another 9/11-style massive terrorist attack -- or worse -- on the American homeland.
Thus, thank you for considering these complex and controversial issues with this in mind.
CNET News and other media outlets report:
NSA probed fewer than 300 phone numbers in 2012
[out of billions]
- "The U.S. government searched for detailed information on calls involving fewer than 300 phone numbers last year, according to an unclassified document circulated Saturday. The paper said such searches -- part of two controversial U.S. intelligence gathering programs -- led to two men allegedly plotting to attack New York City's subway system, Reuters reported."
- "The data, which the Associated Press reported is destroyed every five years, thwarted terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries."
- "U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, explained how the program worked without violating individuals' civil rights."
- "We take the business records by a court order, and it's just phone numbers -- no names, no addresses -- put it in a lock box," Rogers told CBS News' "Face The Nation."
- "And if they get a foreign terrorist overseas that's dialing in to the United Sates, they take that phone number... they plug it into this big pile, if you will, of just phone numbers -- it's like a phonebook without any names and any addresses with it -- to see if there's a connection, a foreign terrorist connection to the United States."
- "When a number comes out of that lock box, it's just a phone number -- no names, no addresses," he continued. "If they think that's relevant to their counterterrorism investigation, they give that to the FBI. Then upon the FBI has to go out and meet all the legal standards to even get whose phone number that is."