Skip to main content

At The New York Times, Charlie Savage reports:
An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down.

The findings are laid out in a 238-page report, scheduled for release by Thursday and obtained by The New York Times, that represent the first major public statement by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which Congress made an independent agency in 2007 and only recently became fully operational. [...]

The Obama administration has portrayed the bulk collection program as useful and lawful while at the same time acknowledging concerns about privacy and potential abuse. But in its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program: that a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing the N.S.A. to collect all calling records in the country.

The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”

The board's five members split 3-2 on whether the program is illegal, with two members who served as Justice Department lawyers in the Bush administration—Rachel L. Brand and Elisebeth Collins Cook—dissenting. But the five were unanimous in their recommendations for change.

To see all the details, we'll obviously have to wait until the public release of the board's report. But this release will surely turn up the heat on a program that, since it was first exposed by leaks of classified material from Edward Snowden, has encountered ever-more criticism and disgust, as it should. The board's critique is going to be harder to gainsay than Snowden's or Glenn Greenwald's.

According to Savage, the report "contains the first official acknowledgment that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court produced no judicial opinion detailing its legal rationale for the program until last August, even though it had been issuing orders to phone companies for the records and to the N.S.A. for how it could handle them since May 2006."

Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post wrote:

The divided panel also concluded that the program raises serious threats to civil liberties, has shown limited value in countering terrorism and is not sustainable from a policy perspective.

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.” [...] “Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.”

We've heard that before and now it's official—the demolishing of the very reason we're all supposed to kowtow to the program's existence.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 11:02 PM PST.

Also republished by Whistleblowers Round Table and Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Bob Johnson, chuck utzman, fcvaguy, Liberal Thinking, Joan McCarter, mimi, Bob Love, wu ming, LynChi, OLinda, eeff, willyr, mzinformed, RFK Lives, hubcap, TheMomCat, whenwego, ask, phillies, roses, sngmama, navajo, k9disc, kharma, Eyesbright, gerrilea, Sychotic1, riverlover, Albanius, Brecht, nailbender, marina, radarlady, HudsonValleyMark, PsychoSavannah, run around, Simplify, basquebob, YucatanMan, Laurence Lewis, Lepanto, Sara R, Burned, lotlizard, stevemb, LieparDestin, Shotput8, Pluto, daddybunny, Lindy, Jim P, forbodyandmind, kovie, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Medium Head Boy, dharmafarmer, AoT, blueoasis, triv33, StrayCat, philipmerrill, Rosaura, gooderservice, Preston S, onionjim, profh, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, shaharazade, kurious, markthshark, OHdog, One Pissed Off Liberal, Debs2, devis1, offgrid, dclawyer06, eOz, aliasalias, jayden, bobswern, jnhobbs, Don midwest, dizzydean, TomP, GideonAB, MKinTN, misterwade, kimoconnor, spacejam, zerone, poligirl, OleHippieChick, Thomas Twinnings, Involuntary Exile, dadadata, Buckeye Nut Schell, jamess, Lujane, RandomNonviolence, temptxan, SmileySam, petulans, Parthenia, Morgan Sheridan, rhutcheson, ZhenRen, cybrestrike, J M F, dharmasyd, maryabein, Norm in Chicago, dicentra, JesseCW, Flyswatterbanjo, Nannyberry, Railfan, Just Bob, AliceNYC, FogCityJohn, flitedocnm, politik, Lost and Found, renzo capetti, gulfgal98, tb mare, Lady Libertine, DerAmi, Johnny Q, 4kedtongue, Publius2008, soaglow, slice, no way lack of brain, Onomastic, allenjo, annominous, Lost Left Coaster, ozsea1, implicate order, FarWestGirl, Nebraska68847Dem, tardis10, enhydra lutris, myrmecia gulosa, bakeneko, ratcityreprobate, stlsophos, DRo, Auriandra, quill, OldDragon, DeadHead, greenbastard, Eric Nelson, Joieau, 420 forever, Horace Boothroyd III, stellaluna, Free Jazz at High Noon, tytalus, stvnjon, Glen The Plumber, wasatch, ottoveil, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, jbob, eyo, aresea, Smoh, Demeter Rising, Another Grizzle, Mark Mywurtz, CenPhx, SamLoomis, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, luerwulf, Pablo Bocanegra, benamery21, Ipracticedissent, Numb Nuts

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site