As someone who used to work the legal end of national security and who is not exactly a notorious Obamabot, I am frequently invited to speak to conservative audiences about surveillance programs. I make it a habit of asking, “How many of you know that the NSA doesn’t know who you are? That they only collect your phone number, not your name or address or anything that would actually identify it as your phone number?”
Yeah. Then ask them how many know that if the NSA wishes, it can attach your name to all that data they’ve collected almost instantaneously?
There is always genuine surprise, just as there is about the fact that phone calls are not being monitored; about the fact that data is only being collected, not analyzed — except for a fraction of phone numbers reasonably suspected of belonging to those with ties to terrorism, and so tiny that to call it infinitesimal seems an overstatement; about the fact that there is extensive, rigorous oversight of the NSA program by Congress and the FISA court. This is not a unilateral Obama-administration production like siccing the IRS on the Tea Party.
Sure. Because you say so, Jim.
There are supposed to be a lot of laws protecting us from the IRS, too. And the EPA. And the DEA. And the TSA.
But you say not to worry. So I guess I’ll roll over and go back to sleep.
Because obviously nothing is going to wake you from your dreams of your government service decades ago, and your conviction that it’s somehow relevant to anything going on today.
BTW, legal eagle: Where is the constitutional authority for this wholesale metadata raiding?