An article in today’s NY Times reports that intelligence wire tapping of Americans did not aid in the thwarting of terrorist activity (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/11/us/11nsa.html?_r=1&th&emc=th).
Quotes from the article:
“Most intelligence officials interviewed “had difficulty citing specific instances” when the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program contributed to successes against terrorists, the report said.”
“. . . intelligence leads that came from the wiretapping operation were often “vague or without context,” the report said.”
But, of course. What did we expect? I don’t have a full understanding of the speech recognition and data mining technology markets, but I know enough to believe that randomly wire tapping Americans in search of terrorist-related communication is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Too much data and not efficient enough technology to handle the job of broad search-and-seek.
The-get-a-warrant-then-wire-tap is a better process because it applies human judgment at the front end and then uses technology to assist. Not to mention it provides a level of rights and protection to citizens.
Now that we’ve spent tax dollars interviewing “about 200 government and private-sector personnel” to determine the program was not efficient, we can go back to respecting rights and following law.
“While former Bush administration officials continue to argue that their policies made the country safer,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, “I believe this report shows that their obsession with secrecy and their refusal to accept oversight was actually harmful to U.S. national security, not to mention the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans.”