Of all the NSA Data Mining info I've seen recently, the Snowden revelations seem to be the most interesting today. A snippet:
“I had full access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world,” he told the Guardian. In a video posted on the website, Snowden claimed that “Any analyst at any time can target anyone … I, sitting at my desk, certainly have the authorities to wiretap anyone — from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.”
The most important question here is not IF he could do this, but was it LEGAL. For examples, the cops could break into my house while I am away, put mics all over the place and record everything, but that would not make it legal (a neighbor could do the exact same thing, and it would be just as illegal).
If congress was briefed, and the FISA courts were briefed, there does not seem to be anything wrong here - we elected these people and let them create this security kabuki theatre, are we really surprised that it has gone this far? My only problem is that this activity - which I believe actually WILL help reduce threats - is being killed while idiotic stuff - such as the TSA and does NOT help us significantly be more secure - is still kept around.
The biggest issue here is that we just have not drawn the right analogues to the non-digital world. Can a cop camp out in front of my house and watch all the people that go in and out? Yes. Can they do it via a camera they have set up on the corner? Yes. Could one person with access to all the cameras in America record everything and then go back and look at the recordings? Yes - the Boston bombing showed that was correct. So why is the fact that two people called each other (not the content of the calls, but the fact that they spoke) not up for recording?
I'm not ecstatic, but of all the things our government does, this isn't even on the top 10 that I'd kill on day one.