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USA Freedom Act Only Scratched Surface of NSA Reform

Fred Kaplan : “O ne week after Congress voted to stop the National Security Agency from collecting and storing millions of Americans’ phone records, partisans on both sides are exaggerating the significance of this new reform… The NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata was the subject of the first news stories based on the trove of highly classified documents that Snowden leaked, and it stirred the biggest commotion. But in fact the metadata program never comprised more than a tiny percentage of the agency’s vast and global surveillance net.”  

“A separate program called PRISM—authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—lets the NSA track foreign terrorists and adversaries by intercepting their Internet traffic as it zips through U.S.–based servers… Yet PRISM isn’t touched at all by the USA Freedom Act, nor does any serious politician propose overhauling it. This is the case, even though PRISM data-mining is a much bigger program than telephone metadata ever was… The key difference is that PRISM has been a far more effective intelligence tool.”  

“The NSA is not in retreat, nor are its counterparts in Russia, China, Israel, France, Iran, North Korea, and other countries. That’s not an excuse for complacency or alarm; it’s cause for vigilance, oversight—and an understanding of what these programs are about.”