As noted in my recent Blog Post, on the NSA Leaks, “Content” (listening-in, copying, etc.) cannot be done without a specific, individual warrant–and only authorized by the FISA Court, which reviews it quarterly. Access would only be available to particular (properly cleared) individuals. Do to the political aspects of Political Washington these days, the GOPers tend to blame everything on President Barack Obama, and always with the worst implications.
The linked article, from The Washington Post, is particularly significant, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/call-records-of-fewer-than-300-people-were-searched-in-2012-us-says/2013/06/15/5e611cee-d61b-11e2-a73e-826d299ff459_print.html, in that it links a statement, provided to Congress yesterday by (unspecified) Intelligence Officials, which includes the specifics as to what NSA can and cannot do: http://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/06/16/National-Politics/Graphics/Backgrounder.pdf. It was probably given at a briefing, whah fficials of the CIA, FBI, NSA and DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) to Congress yesterday.
So, why should I be concerned that NSA has records that my Wife and Daughter spoke a hundred times over the phone last month, and Grandma (“Lola”, in the Philippines) got to see our Grandson, Henry, with his Mom on FaceTime, as much as possible?
Now, after the Boston Marathon Bombings, it was reported on TV that instructions as to how to build a Pressure Cooker Bomb, or replicate a plastic gun that would escape metal detectors, with a 3-D Printer, were available on-line. Shouldn’t the Government be aware as to who is visiting those web sites–and how often?
I think back to the 1983 movie “War Games”, with Matthew Broderick, as a teenager who broke into NORAD’s (the guys in the underground bunker who actually fire the ICBMs) computer system. The NORAD computer started “playing a Game”, with Broderick’s character, which literally brought the U.S. and Russia (that was before the Soviet Union imploded) to the brink of World War III.
So, there is definitely some very important value in the Government knowing who is visiting these web sites, making those calls, visiting on Social Media, etc. So what if jump-starts book sales of George Orwell’s classic “1984”, written in 1949, about “Big Brother”. You can’t blame the Government for lack of Counter-terrorism when you stifle it’s Counter-intelligence capabilities.
NOTE: In my prior Post about the Leaks, I used the term “and other clearances” and, again, today I referred to the accessibility of information, regarding Content being available only to specific people. Besides the standard clearances, regarding degree of importance, there might be other types of “access”, having to deal with the “collection process”. Also, the “need to know” must always be present, as well.