The Senate Judiciary Committee questioned senior officials of the NSA, FBI, and the Department of Justice at the hearings today. As one would expect, the senators scolded their agencies for lying to them but did not refer them for prosecution, which means that it was just grandstanding. Some senators also promised to introduce legislation forcing more transparency and revamping the rubber-stamp FISA court but we will have to see if that too is just grandstanding.
But there was one bit of information. The administration has been trumpeting that these massive surveillance programs have prevented ‘dozens’ of terrorist attacks. But this time they backtracked.
The NSA has previously claimed that 54 terrorist plots had been disrupted “over the lifetime” of the bulk phone records collection and the separate program collecting the internet habits and communications of people believed to be non-Americans. On Wednesday, [NSA deputy director John] Inglis said that at most one plot might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records collection alone. [My italics]
So they now imply, but don’t say directly, that the other ‘at least’ 53 possible plots came from the other programs. How long before that too is admitted to be a lie?