Edward Snowden: NSA Too Busy Spying on Americans To Catch Terrorists

Edward SnowdenIn

testimony published last week
by the European Parliament’s
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs, NSA
snooping whistleblower Edward Snowden told lawmakers that mass
spying has proven to be an especially ineffective means of
deterring wrongdoing. NSA claims to have prevented multiple
terrorist attacks evaporated upon actual scrutiny. Worse, he says,
the NSA is so busy probing the general public’s gaming habits and
personal communications that it has no time or to devote to
anything useful.

According to

The first principle any inquiry must take into account is that
despite extraordinary political pressure to do so, no western
government has been able to present evidence showing that such
programs are necessary. In the United States, the heads of our
spying services once claimed that 54 terrorist attacks had been
stopped by mass surveillance, but two independent White House
reviews with access to the classified evidence on which this claim
was founded concluded it was untrue, as did a Federal Court.

Looking at the US government’s reports here is valuable. The
most recent of these investigations, performed by the White House’s
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, determined that the
mass surveillance program investigated was not only
ineffective–they found it had never stopped even a single imminent
terrorist attack–but that it had no basis in law.

Specifically, the board
, “we have not identified a single instance involving
a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete
difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”

When it comes to legal concerns, the board
“There are four grounds upon which we find that the
telephone records program fails to comply with Section 215,” that
“the program violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act,”
and that “The NSA’s telephone records program also raises concerns
under both the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States

The board’s report also cautioned, “the bulk collection of
telephone records can be expected to have a chilling effect on the
free exercise of speech and association, because individuals and
groups engaged in sensitive or controversial work have less reason
to trust in the confidentiality of their relationships as revealed
by their calling patterns.”

Needless to say, the White House
glibly rejected
the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight
Board’s conclusions.

Snowden went on to point out the failings of the NSA’s
all-you-can-hoover approach to surveillance.

I believe that suspicionless surveillance not only fails to make
us safe, but it actually makes us less safe. By squandering
precious, limited resources on “collecting it all,” we end up with
more analysts trying to make sense of harmless political dissent
and fewer investigators running down real leads. I believe
investing in mass surveillance at the expense of traditional,
proven methods can cost lives, and history has shown my concerns
are justified.

Despite the extraordinary intrusions of the NSA and EU national
governments into private communications world-wide, Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallab, the “Underwear Bomber,” was allowed to board an
airplane traveling from Europe to the United States in 2009. The
290 persons on board were not saved by mass surveillance, but by
his own incompetence, when he failed to detonate the device. While
even Mutallab’s own father warned the US government he was
dangerous in November 2009, our resources were tied up monitoring
online games and tapping German ministers. That extraordinary
tip-off didn’t get Mutallab a dedicated US investigator. All we
gave him was a US visa.

Nor did the US government’s comprehensive monitoring of
Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians
specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn’t
do more than a cursory investigation–although they did plenty of
worthless computer-based searching–and failed to discover the
plot. 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could
have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the
call records of everyone in America.

Snowden’s testimony also ranged over disclosures to come, and
the complicity of European spy agencies in snooping on each other’s
citizens—and then sharing the data with the NSA, which gets the
full package. Countries even modify their privacy laws to make the
NSA’s job (and that of their own agencies) easier.

All of this, to suck up more data than the spies can process, at
the expense of targeting real threats.

from Hit & Run http://ift.tt/1cqx3q9

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