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Jan 16 2014

Study: NSA Metadata Mining No Help in Preventing Terrorism

A new study from the New America Foundation of 225 terrorism cases concludes that the NSA’s cell phone metadata mining program has done nothing to prevent terrorism. In fact, only 4 times in all of those cases did the NSA use any authority under Section 215 of the Patriot Act at all.

An analysis of 225 terrorism cases inside the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has concluded that the bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency “has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”

In the majority of cases, traditional law enforcement and investigative methods provided the tip or evidence to initiate the case, according to the study by the New America Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit group.

The study, to be released Monday, corroborates the findings of a White House-appointed review group, which said last month that the NSA counterterrorism program “was not essential to preventing attacks” and that much of the evidence it did turn up “could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders.”

It will be very interesting to see what the Obama administration does with all of this. The commission that he created to study it has essentially said that the data mining programs are doing little to prevent terrorism and that they are prone to abuse and need stronger safeguards on them, but his administration has steadfastly defended those programs not only from the criticism of civil libertarians and experts but against any and all lawsuits filed against the abuses. My prediction: He does nothing, or proposes only surface-level changes that do little to nothing.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    D. C. Sessions

    The commission that he created to study it has essentially said that the data mining programs are doing little to prevent terrorism and that they are prone to abuse and need stronger safeguards on them

    But the court that approves the practices insists that everything is totally fine, based on exhaustive data presented to it by the NSA.

  2. 2
    Chiroptera

    “This is inaccurate: it doesn’t include the suspects that were secretly arrested, and then tried in secret tribunals and executed in the dark of night. Oh, wait, no, what I meant was…. Well, this became awkward.”

  3. 3
    sigurd jorsalfar

    Obama will support the program, because if he cancels it and then an act of terrorism occurs, he will be accused of letting it happen because he cancelled NSA spying. This is how pols think.

  4. 4
    theschwa

    Yes, but how has the NSA program benefited the entirely-winnable-and-nearly-won War of Drugs?

  5. 5
    Modusoperandi

    As a Patriotic American Freedom Conservative Tea Partier, I’m conflicted. On the one hand, it’s yet another case of pork barrel, Big Government spending in yet another unaccountable Big Government program by “president” Obama to favored chronies who live by suckling at the Teat of the Hardworking American Taxpayer, and, as with other Obama intrusions, like Obamacare, not pre-emptively bombing Iran, and existing, it’s ineffective and must be criticized because Obama and it’s my right and how dare you step on my First Amendment rights simply to protect one of your own. On the other hand, it’s the Police State.

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    Booz Allen Hamilton has a market cap of $3+Bn. What makes anyone think this is about catching terrorists?

  7. 7
    Marcus Ranum

    On the plus side, cell location data’ll probably help the FBI determine whether Justin Beiber was at home when the egg-throwing incident occurred. That’s important anti-terror information, right there!!

  8. 8
    Olav

    Marcus #5, exactly. It was never about catching any terrorists. We can assume that proper terrorists know how to stay under the radar of the surveillance state. So all these programmes were ever going to “catch” was ordinary citizens doing mostly harmless stuff.

    It is all about power and control, not security. To the people in charge that may look like almost the same thing. Because of that I am not sure there is always evil intent on their part. It is still fear that drives them. They are scared of losing the sense of control that they have. It is like a totem that they must sacrifice to.

    And then of course the vultures descend and make filthy profits on those sacrifices.

  9. 9
    Olav

    I meant to refer to Marcus at #6.

  10. 10
    cry4turtles

    My hubby and just had a heated discussion on Snowden. He thinks Snowden is a traitor, as I did at first. But my opinion has changed, especially when I saw the NSA helicopter hovering over a house in Youngstown during a bathsalts bust. I feel that America is a beacon of freedom, democracy (don’t laugh) and especially transparency of government (again, don’t laugh).

  11. 11
    Michael Heath

    cry4turtles:

    . . . I saw the NSA helicopter hovering over a house in Youngstown during a bathsalts bust.

    An NSA helicopter???

  12. 12
    Modusoperandi

    Michael Heath, going by the context, DEA, probably.

  13. 13
    cry4turtles

    It was the NSA. I didn’t personally see it; it was on Y-town news, and was reported as such.

  14. 14
    cry4turtles

    I did see the newsreel though. There it was: NSA.

  15. 15
    cry4turtles

    Sorry about multiple posts but Google it. June 26, 2013, Channel 21 WFMJ reported it. If I’m lyin I’m dyin’!

  16. 16
    Michael Heath

    cry4turtles,

    You have the obligation to validate your extraordinary claims, not me.

    And googling didn’t work prior to my even posting @ 11; i.e., there were no credible search results merely using the search words NSA and helicopter, let alone call letters for a media outlet. Just a couple hits on Alex Jones / Joe Farah types seeing a helicopter and instantly conclude it’s the NSA spying on them.

  17. 17
    cry4turtles

    Michael Heath, I apologize for the lack of an imbedded link. I have this cheap tablet and can’t figure it ôut. I specifically remember seeing the story. If you’re still interested a google of “nsa bathsalts bust youngstown” got me to several pages. One is a facebook link to eyewitnesses as the bust went down. It actually happened in Newton Falls Ohio. I’ll try to solve the link issue.

  18. 18
    cry4turtles

    https://www.facebook.com/21WFMJ/posts/10151504192682219 Hope this works!

  19. 19
    Rip Steakface

    cry4turtles, the NSA doesn’t use helicopters. That’s not in their purview. That would be like the Coast Guard using main battle tanks. The NSA is purely signals intelligence, their intelligence gathering consists of going to the office (wherever it may be) and cracking encryptions and the like.

  20. 20
    Nick Gotts

    I feel that America is a beacon of freedom, democracy (don’t laugh) and especially transparency of government (again, don’t laugh). – cry4turtles@10

    Mmpf! Ympf! Gmmpffff! *snigger* *chortle*
    Bwwwwah-ha-ha-ha-ha ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaahhhhhh!!!!

    Sorry, just couldn’t help it!

  21. 21
    Nick Gotts

    That would be like the Coast Guard using main battle tanks. – Rip Steakface@19

    Well, with sea levels rising, someone’s got to deter that expansionist ocean!

  22. 22
    Snoof

    This just proves the NSA is too hamstrung by regulation and restriction to effectively combat terrorism. They clearly need more, wider-ranging powers and extra funding.

    I feel dirty just for having written that. Urgh.

  23. 23
    Michael Heath

    cry4turtles,

    Read what Rip Steakface asserts @ 19, he’s correct. It makes no sense for the NSA to be at a drug bust with a helicopter, let alone a helicopter labeled NSA. That’s why I called your claim extraordinary. Your linked source didn’t even provide the assertion the NSA was there, let alone compelling evidence.

  24. 24
    WithinThisMind

    It’s funny.

    The NSA claims to be searching through metadata and emails and all that shit to catch ‘terrorists’.

    Female bloggers are subject to intense terror campaigns for simply existing while female.

    And yet…

  25. 25
    democommie

    “But the court that approves the practices insists that everything is totally fine, based on exhaustive data presented to it by the NSA.”

    We’d show you the transcripts but then we’d have to kill you.

    Metadatamining? I thought that was what the “Glomar Explorer” was doing with them manganese noodles in the Hawaiian Punch Trench.

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