Thursday, May 25, 2006

From a former member of the NSA

Some damning words in this essay. Clip:

Ignoring FISA's rules concerning warrants is illegal. It also weakens national security, since the process of obtaining the warrants has an effect on quality control. To date, FBI agents have been sent out to do thousands of investigations based on this warrantless wiretapping. None of those investigations turned up a legitimate lead. I have spoken to about a dozen agents, and they all roll their eyes and indicate disgust with the man-years of wasted effort being put into physically examining NSA "leads."

This scattershot attempt at data mining drags FBI agents away from real investigations, while destroying the NSA’s credibility in the eyes of law enforcement and the public in general. That loss of credibility makes the NSA the agency that cried wolf -- and after so many false leads, should they provide something useful, the data will be looked at skeptically and perhaps given lower priority by law enforcement than it would otherwise have been given.

Worse, FBI agents working real and pressing investigations such as organized crime, child pornography and missing persons are being pulled away from their normal law enforcement duties to follow up on NSA leads. Nobody wants another 9/11, of course, but we experience real crimes on a daily basis that, over the course of even one year, cause far greater loss of life and damage than the 9/11 attacks did. There are children abused on a daily basis to facilitate online child pornography, yet I know of at least two agents who were pulled from their duties tracking down child abusers to investigate everyone who called the same pizza parlor as a person who received a call from a person who received an overseas call. There are plenty of similar examples.

We have snakes in our midst, yet we are chasing a mythical beast with completely unreliable evidence...

Unnerved at the prospect of one person holding that data? You should be. While I can personally attest to the fact that the vast majority of NSA employees are good and honest people, the NSA has more than its share of bitter, vindictive mid- and senior-level bureaucrats. I would not trust my personal information with these people, since I have personally seen them use internal information against their enemies.

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