NSA, Which Once Claimed It Needed Every Phone Record, Now Claims It Actually Gets Less Than 20%

Saturday, February 8, 2014
By Paul Martin

by Mike Masnick
TechDirt.com
Fri, Feb 7th 2014

Ever since the first Snowden leaks about the way the NSA interpreted Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to allow it to collect all call records from various telcos, one of the key arguments that has been made by the program’s defenders is that it was necessary to have every single call record to make the important connections between terrorists. Multiple officials have argued that to find the “needle in the haystack” they need to be able to collect the whole haystack. In fact, that was part of the argument made by the few judges who have reviewed and approved this program. In the very first FISC ruling that actually analyzed the legality of the program (as opposed to earlier approvals that never bothered with an analysis), the court clearly indicated that it was necessary to collect everything:

The government depends on this bulk collection because if production of the information were to wait until the specific identifier connected to an international terrorist group were determined, most of the historical connections (the entire purpose of this authorization) would be lost. The analysis of past connections is only possible “if the Government has collected and archived a broad set of metadata that contains within it the subset of communications that can later be identified as terrorist-related.” Because the subset of terrorist communications is ultimately contained within the whole of the metadata produced, but can only be found after the production is aggregated and then queried using identifiers determined to be associated with identified international terrorist organizations, the whole production is relevant to the ongoing investigation out of necessity.

The Rest…HERE

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