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NSA Metadata Collection Program Has Stopped Zero Attacks

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the raise-your-hand-if-you're-surprised dept.

Privacy 199

Antipater writes "According to a member of the White House panel that recently called for the NSA's metadata-collection program to be curtailed, that program has not stopped any terrorist actions at all. This runs counter to the stories we've heard for months, which claimed as many as fifty prevented attacks. 'Stone declined to comment on the accuracy of public statements by U.S. intelligence officials about the telephone collection program, but said that when they referred to successes they seemed to be mixing the results of domestic metadata collection with the intelligence derived from the separate, and less controversial, NSA program, known as 702, to intercept communications overseas.'"

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199 comments

Wait a second... (5, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about 4 months ago | (#45748757)

You mean the lying liars who lie for a living... lied?

Re:Wait a second... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748855)

Sorta... the 702 program did catch some (apparently ~50). The 215 program has caught 0. 702 and 215 are the same program just segmented along foreign and domestic lines. The 215 program apparently caught 0 because they actually do not have enough data. As apparently the smaller phone companies were like 'you are going to pay for that right?' The NSA decided not to pay. (hey I read the article :))

The way I read that was they wanted more money to buy more data. Nevermind all that constitution stuff and right and wrong to do it at all...

Mod parent down. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749209)

These programs caught no one. Until full analyses of the cases have been released, by no stretch of the imagination can you say that anyone was "caught." The best that the government "ABC/XYZ" organizations can do is entrap old, stupid people and paranoid schizophrenics whom they give the "bomb material" to. Don't give credit where it is not deserved, shill.

Re:Mod parent down. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749413)

Shill? All I did was regurgitate the article. You missed the 'apparently'. Which in my terms means maybe they did maybe the didnt. Personally I think they didnt... But it matters not one iota what I think.

However, you want to treat it emotionally. I want to know what they really did or didnt do. Unfortunately they are a secret org only beholden to a secret committee in congress and a secret court and a secret guy in the employe of the president. So getting any sort of what they did out of them is quite the job. At this point it is a good amount of speculation. With the known things Snowden has said.

These programs caught no one. Until full analyses of the cases have been released, by no stretch of the imagination can you say that anyone was "caught."
You and I are on the same page... I however can only go by what each side is saying. One side says they caught 50. You say 0 period. They have now come back and said 'wellll 50 but overseas'. Rightfully your bullshitometer is going off at this point. Mine as well.

Re:Wait a second... (3, Insightful)

phrostie (121428) | about 4 months ago | (#45749251)

so do we still need the new 1.2 billion USD data centers?

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/57281931-90/agency-center-changes-data.html.csp [sltrib.com]

Re:Wait a second... (1, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about 4 months ago | (#45749545)

Yes. There are nearly 200 countries filled with radios, radars, beacons, phones, networks, and so on that are controlling satellites, armies, air forces, and navies that produce data that gets captured and stored. The NSAs domestic phone record surveillance program is a small program.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 4 months ago | (#45748863)

The surprise is that they didn't lie. They could have said it did stop an attack but its a secret.

Re:Wait a second... (4, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 4 months ago | (#45748957)

They could have said it did stop an attack but its a secret.

That's essentially EXACTLY what they said. They claimed several prevented attacks but refused to provide details.

Re:Wait a second... (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 4 months ago | (#45749231)

They claimed several prevented attacks but refused to provide details.

And given the way they publicise the "attacks" that they "stop" which are really just an informant giving fake bombs/weapons to some nut job ... you know they'd be shouting any successes from every rooftop they could get to. They'd be doing the talk show circuit and hosting their own news conferences.

The first problem is that the kind of "terrorism" that they want to focus on is almost non-existant in the USofA. The real terrorists had one huge success and that's all.

The second problem is that the real terrorists don't spend time gossipping on the phone with all their terrorist friends. Yes, it is a way to map out a social network. But this isn't Facebook. Sam the suicide does not have to call Bill the bomb every Tuesday at 7 to chat.

The metadata and phone location are useful for reconstructing the final days and those contacts AFTER an attack. And they don't need years of data for that. Or even months.

Re:Wait a second... (0, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 4 months ago | (#45749575)

That's essentially EXACTLY what they said. They claimed several prevented attacks but refused to provide details.

That is the way the intelligence game works. Your successes are secrets, and your failures tend to get publicized. If you don't keep your successes secret, you may not be able to repeat them, ever.

If they are briefing Congress about this it is almost certainly occurring behind closed doors, and may be limited to specific members.

Re:Wait a second... (1, Funny)

BSAtHome (455370) | about 4 months ago | (#45748875)

Yes, but it did not hurt the bottom line. The NSA has prevented many, many economic failures. Terrorists are so last decade. The real value is in the economic edge you can blackmail from all others.

Re:Wait a second... (5, Insightful)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about 4 months ago | (#45748933)

Tell that to Boeing, who just lost a major deal with Brazil [reuters.com] over this.

Re:Wait a second... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749103)

Morons. Really. Both the Captain Kirk wannabees that run the agency and their private sector "partners". Besides Boeing, we now find out that IBM hid a couple of billion in lost business with China stemming from the Snowden leaks from their shareholders. This just underscores for me that the people running things got where they are through a combination of luck and ruthlessness rather than smarts and discipline. Those of us old enough to have lived through the Cold War pretty quickly made the connection between what our government has been up to now and what went on in the police states on the other side of the Iron Curtain (although perhaps not with the same sense of dejavu that Angela Merkel does). That anyone involved in this still has not been impeached or fired is probably an indication of how far gone we are.

Re:Wait a second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749245)

It's worse: Those that said a clear NO to this amoral mess, were "disappeared".

Re:Wait a second... (4, Insightful)

rnturn (11092) | about 4 months ago | (#45749193)

It certainly is somewhat surprising that the security community and the State Department didn't foresee something like this happening as a result of the spying. How large their blinders must be to have missed this.

Re:Wait a second... (4, Informative)

s.petry (762400) | about 4 months ago | (#45749277)

As the AC says below, this is not the only victim but the first major one to be published in detail with the exact verbiage because of the NSA. This should also make you question all of these reports claiming "economic recovery" in the US. It was reported back in June when the leaks first came out that CISCO lost numerous contracts due to the NSA. [snark]But of course we are all just crazy conspiracy theorists, so the facts below are nothing more than racist attacks against Obama [/snark]

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/how-nsa-mass-surveillance-hurting-us-economy
http://business.time.com/2013/12/10/nsa-spying-scandal-could-cost-u-s-tech-giants-billions/ [time.com]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/08/07/nsa-snooping-could-cost-u-s-tech-companies-35-billion-over-three-years/ [washingtonpost.com]
http://www.storyleak.com/nsa-spying-us-companies-billions-american-job-loss/ [storyleak.com]
http://www.informationweek.com/cloud/infrastructure-as-a-service/nsas-prism-could-cost-us-cloud-companies-$45-billion/d/d-id/1111178 [informationweek.com]?

Re:Wait a second... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 4 months ago | (#45749677)

Tell that to Boeing, who just lost a major deal with Brazil [reuters.com] over this.

I'll break the code on that for you. The French company Dassault competed for that contract, but the Swedish company Saab made a better bid, so Dassault lost. The US company Boeing competed for that contract, but the Swedish company Saab made a better bid, so Boeing lost. Claiming it had anything to do with the NSA was just a "twist of the knife" at an opportune time. If you want to claim that it was due to NSA, they why did Dassault lose?

Dassault Blasts Brazil's Fighter Decision [defensenews.com]

You can read a number of comments about the strong position of Saab in the Slashdot story on this.

US Spying Costs Boeing Military Jet Deal With Brazil [slashdot.org] -- Example [slashdot.org]

Or go out on the internet and look. Saab has a competitive fighter that has won a number of contracts, both in Europe and around the world.

People are going to be claiming that every lost contract or bid has to do with NSA now, but little of it will be true. But that is an easier explanation to make than how you were underbid, or otherwise made a bad business decision.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#45749591)

You mean the lying liars who lie for a living... lied?

I'm waiting for someone from the NSA to say "everything I say is a lie". How can you not use a classic like that?

Re:Wait a second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749727)

You mean the lying liars who lie for a living... lied?

I'm waiting for someone from the NSA to say "everything I say is a lie". How can you not use a classic like that?

Jon Lovitz should become the NSA's official spokesman.

Shocker! (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 4 months ago | (#45748779)

I think I might have a heart attack and die, from not suprise.

Re:Shocker! (1)

anagama (611277) | about 4 months ago | (#45749085)

What's particularly shocking about this report, is that everyone presumed that a bunch of hand picked insiders would come back with an "it's all good" report. That even the most NSA friendly review group possible is criticizing the NSA, actually is pretty surprising. Things must be really really bad.

Of course it didn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748783)

It never has and never will, it was never the intention to begin with.

Re:Of course it didn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748883)

But we will never know for sure unless we continue.

Re:Of course it didn't. (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#45749175)

But we will never know for sure unless we continue.

They should use the TSA's mantra: "Well yeah, we haven't really directly stopped any serious attacks, but we've undoubtedly deterred many attacks because the terrorists know they can't get past our security defenses (unless of course, they exploit one of the many weaknesses in airport security that aren't solved by groping children)"

The NSA can say the same "Well, by knowing that we're out there, many terrorists have just given up their plans and went to work at homeless shelters"

Re:Of course it didn't. (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 4 months ago | (#45748959)

I'm really curious what other US citizen could directly and provably lie to congress, and not be arrested and indited for it, like J. Clapper?

Why has he not gotten in trouble legally yet?

Re:Of course it didn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749153)

Because if he is tried those who would try him would be dragged through the mud with all the dirty little secrets he has on them. I.E. Congress, and the Senate, and they really would like to be reelected come next term.

Re:Of course it didn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749317)

Well... When you have the kind of information he has, who can lay a finger on you? No?

Re:Of course it didn't. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#45749571)

I'm really curious what other US citizen could directly and provably lie to congress, and not be arrested and indited for it

It's not a crime unless you're under oath. I'm not sure who took an oath and who didn't, but congress has a cute habit of not requiring "important" people to testify under oath. Peons are another story.

Re: Of course it didn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749577)

Because he didn't lie. He misspoke. Duh!

Re:Of course it didn't. (1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 4 months ago | (#45749731)

I'm really curious what other US citizen could directly and provably lie to congress, and not be arrested and indited for it, like J. Clapper?

Why has he not gotten in trouble legally yet?

Why hasn't he gotten in trouble legally? Probably because Congress had already been informed of the truth, and Wyden asked a highly inappropriate question in an inappropriate place as a form of grandstanding.

Wyden’s Stunt Was Congress at its Worst [commentarymagazine.com]

Re:Of course it didn't. (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#45749319)

I dont know, I have this rock I bought from a girl named lisa, and i have yet to have a run in with a tiger.

Re:Of course it didn't. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#45749709)

Yeah, but now at least they have to invent a new reason for the expense.

If they were not so expensive, the NSA would be quite entertaining. In a Colombo'esque sort of way. You know that they lie and you know that they'll try to bullshit you into spending money on them, but you still watch to find out how they'll do it.

The NSA probed our anus and found shit (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748797)

The NSA probed our anus and found shit. What else is new.

Re:The NSA probed our anus and found shit (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#45749725)

That we apparently still have too much money since we can obviously still afford food.

Well the NSA always lies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748823)

so this means that the metadata collection has stopped plenty of attacks

Thanks, brahs, for watching our backs!

I doesn't matter (4, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 4 months ago | (#45748831)

No politician that already has any real power is going to want to reign in the NSA. Politicians don't want to take anything like this back. If you're the one who does, and then an attack does happen, then regardless of whether or not it would have been prevented you're pretty much handing the next election to your opponent, who will claim that the attack was your fault because you were too soft.

If you were a sociopath and cared only about your career rather than doing what's right (as a politician generally is by the time they get elected to an office where they have any real power), would you make a decision at work that had a finite chance of completely ruining your career?

Re:I doesn't matter (5, Insightful)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about 4 months ago | (#45748899)

Not to be all conspiratorial, but I think it's been a while now since politicians were really in charge of this sort of thing.

Re:I doesn't matter (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 4 months ago | (#45749051)

Not to be all conspiratorial, but I think it's been a while now since politicians were really in charge of this sort of thing.

They are and they aren't. They rarely get involved--but if they really decide to get involved, they can do just about anything they want to the NSA. The problem is that they're not usually motivated to get involved. That's why having the tech lobby on the non-NSA side is important--even if you're in favor of lots of NSA data collection, you need countervailing forces to keep it in check.

Re:I doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749269)

It must be so nice and comforting to live life in such naivety.

Re:I doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749753)

It must be so nice and comforting to live life in such naivety.

Not nearly as nice and comforting as living life in such anonymity. Oh wait...

Re:I doesn't matter (4, Insightful)

the_scoots (1595597) | about 4 months ago | (#45749265)

Not to be all conspiratorial, but I think it's been a while now since politicians were really in charge of this sort of thing.

Agreed. I would add, I doubt that anyone who's done the things you have to do to get elected at the national level wants to cross the folks that have access to potentially EVERY electronic piece of information generated by them, their family and staff in the last decade plus. Don't think for a minute that if someone like Feinstein got critical of their programs, some shady business dealings of her husband's or his associates wouldn't get laundered to FBI or others.

Re:I doesn't matter (1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 4 months ago | (#45749497)

Not to be all conspiratorial, but I think it's been a while now since politicians were really in charge of this sort of thing.

That is conspiratorial. The armed forces have grown and shrunk by hundreds of thousands over the last 20 years, and by tens of thousands over the last decade. Congress clearly has the power. The armed forces have started shrinking again. The NSA could certainly have its rules changed by the Congress, the courts, or the President.

Re:I doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748955)

So what you're saying is that, because Americans are the dumbest people on the planet, that they're actually right when they say that they're spying on us and shitting all over our rights for our own good, and so they might as well continue expanding the Police State apparatus because, if they dont, the moronic public will vote in somebody who will?

Re:I doesn't matter (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about 4 months ago | (#45748981)

> you're pretty much handing the next election to your opponent, who will claim that the attack was your fault because you were too soft.

I'd like you now to direct your attention to all the European countries previous victims of terrorism, and how their populations have typically understood that leaving the door slightly open to an attack was the price to pay, for their taxes going to more useful things than spying on everyone.

The overreaction of the US, the terrorist paranoia down to the last moldy shack in the Bayou, has really amazed those people who hadn't lived in denial of the rest of the world since they were born.

Re:I doesn't matter (4, Interesting)

bonehead (6382) | about 4 months ago | (#45749661)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I find it interesting that so many are willing to sacrifice MY freedom in the interests of THEIR (illusion of) safety, then the safest (real safety) place I can think of would probably be an isolation cell inside a SuperMax prison. Barring any suicidal tendencies, you'd be pretty damn safe sitting in one of those rooms.

Maybe we just need to divert some tax dollars to building "safe facilities" for the cowards who think they need to be protected from all of the dangers their imaginations cook up.

Re: I doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748999)

Perhaps even INFINITE CHANCE!

Re:I doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749059)

It's worse than that. Consider this quote from Maxine Waters (congress critter and complete moron) from well before the NSA scandal hit (around the time of the election I think):

The President has put in place an organization with the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life," Representative Maxine Waters told Roland Martin on Monday. "That's going to be very, very powerful," Waters said. "That database will have information about everything on every individual on ways that it's never been done before and whoever runs for President on the Democratic ticket has to deal with that. They're going to go down with that database and the concerns of those people because they can't get around it. And he's [President Obama] been very smart. It's very powerful what he's leaving in place."

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=49a_1360284775#comment_page=4

The politicians are in all likelihood USING this data. It's how they determine who to solicit donations, drive get out the vote campaigns, and smear their political opponents.

Re:I doesn't matter (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#45749061)

So who's career ended over 9/11?

Re: I doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749101)

Danny Jowenko, Barry Jennings.. maybe even Michael Hastings.

Re: I doesn't matter (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#45749321)

Nice try, but none of them meet the criteria. They didn't have any authority to define our security before the attacks at all.

Depending on what side of the tinfoil hat you're on, they were silenced whistleblowers or they were kooks who had accidents.

Re:I doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749353)

This might be the one issue you could actually bring hardline teaparty and liberals together on.

Re:I doesn't matter (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 4 months ago | (#45749405)

No politician that already has any real power is going to want to reign in the NSA.

Anyone who is a lame-duck, destined for a career that doesn't involve holding office ought to be OK with it. You know, like a certain president...

Re:I doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749435)

No politician that already has any real power is going to want to reign in the NSA.

Isn't that what J Edgar Hoover did with the FBI? I'm sure someone would want to reign in the NSA too -- might even declare themselves Emperor.....

It's about money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748833)

Here's the real answer:
The NSA performs industrial espionage to give America and its' Allies economic advantages.

Nor would it have stopped 911 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748853)

As far back as 911, terrorists knew enough not to use electronic communications.

So then what was the domestic spying used for? Political control? Insider Financial trading? Thought Police?

Zero-day attacks (4, Funny)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about 4 months ago | (#45748865)

Apparently I'm the only one to think they were taking credit for stopping zero-day malware attacks.

Let's take them at their word, and count bodies (5, Interesting)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 4 months ago | (#45748885)

Let's take them at their word and say that they did manage to stop 50 attacks. So that works out to about 4 attacks per year for the past 12 years. I will even give them the benefit that every attack would have killed as many people as the 9/11 attack. So that would give us somewhere around 13,000 people per year that would have been killed by these attacks. So without their violation of our rights terrorism would rank behind drug abuse [wikipedia.org] and we don't seem to care that much about drug abuse. Even if all 50 attacks happened this year and each one killed ~3000 people the body count would only be 150,000 and terrorism would come in at #2 between being a fat ass and being a smoker.

Now in reality the number of attacks is probably much lower than the 50 they claim, and I would be willing to bet that at most a few dozen people would be killed in the most devastating of these attacks. So as others have pointed out before why are we wasting so much money and violating everyone's rights for something that is little more than a statistical anomaly.

Re:Let's take them at their word, and count bodies (2)

deconfliction (3458895) | about 4 months ago | (#45749025)

So as others have pointed out before why are we wasting so much money and violating everyone's rights for something that is little more than a statistical anomaly.

To be blunt- it is to help the rich and powerful to gain more money and power at the expense of the exploited powerless. With their current systems in place, they better and better entrench themselves in power. Using basically the same vertzezung style methods employed by the east german stasi. Everything else is the usual windowdressing of common authoritarianism. In other words, expounding on threat models that don't stand up to 'doing the math' as you took the effort to do. Thank you for your comment. I've got too much bloodlust against the ratfuckers to be willing to spend time on the numbers and data as you did.

Re:Let's take them at their word, and count bodies (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 4 months ago | (#45749129)

Every time one of these agencies make these unbelievable claims I send off letters to my congress critters laying out these stats to point out why they should end these programs. Like you I know why they do these things but I try to get my supposed representatives to listen as well as anyone else who wants to try and work on their representatives but there are too many people who think there is a terrorist under every rock and behind every blade of grass.

but (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749201)

our freedoms! they hate our freedom!

Re:Let's take them at their word, and count bodies (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 4 months ago | (#45749473)

So without their violation of our rights terrorism would rank behind drug abuse [wikipedia.org] and we don't seem to care that much about drug abuse. Even if all 50 attacks happened this year and each one killed ~3000 people the body count would only be 150,000 and terrorism would come in at #2 between being a fat ass and being a smoker.

So you think there are no problematic aspects to comparing the results of willful, planned human action resulting in violence with events of random chance or personal choice leading to death or disease? Lets continue that line of thinking. Americans lost about $92 billion in gambling in 2007 [dailyfinance.com]. In 2012, there were 3,870 bank robberies [wsj.com] in which the robbers managed to steal $29.5 million, or $7,600 per robbery. Surely by your thinking that must make gambling a much larger problem. Therefore society should totally abandon enforcing laws against bank robbery until it has reduced gambling losses from $92 billion to something close to $29.5 million. Do you think bank robbery would remain static at that level if that were to occur?

Abandoning enforcement of bank robberies (as a proxy for terrorism) will have little effect on the level of gambling (as a proxy for disease or accidents), but will almost certainly result in increased incidence of bank robberies. Bank robbery is a problem that is being kept in check by enforcement - there are people sitting in jail for bank robbery, just as there are for terrorism. Increased enforcement and longer sentences have helped significantly reduce the level of bank robbery. Do you think you would make that much of a dent in gambling as long as it remains legal since it is both enjoyable and addictive as are drugs? The answer is no.

That fact that statistics exist for terrorism and heart attacks doesn't mean that any particular comparison is necessarily valid. Your comparison isn't a reasonable comparison from a public policy perspective, and doesn't account for the secondary affects from those choices. Your argument is largely nonsense.

Re:Let's take them at their word, and count bodies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749699)

So you think there are no problematic aspects to comparing the results of willful, planned human action resulting in violence with events of random chance or personal choice leading to death or disease?

You don't make a personal choice to continue abusing drugs to the point of killing yourself. It may have been a personal choice that first time when you got hooked, but more likely it was forced on you in one way or another.

That you're trying to make an argument using statistics is proof enough that you don't have an argument to make but want to look like you do.

Re:Let's take them at their word, and count bodies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749513)

Now in reality the number of attacks is probably much lower than the 50 they claim, and I would be willing to bet that at most a few dozen people would be killed in the most devastating of these attacks. So as others have pointed out before why are we wasting so much money and violating everyone's rights for something that is little more than a statistical anomaly.

Whenever these sorts of stats are rolled out, it makes me imagine a video camera set up to observe all activity in a house. The excuse for keeping it going is that it has stopped 50 people from stealing some cookies that are locked in a safe in an alarmed room.

People never ask the question "If this system hadn't stopped the attacks, would some other fully legal system in place have caught them instead?" My guess is, the answer is almost always "yes".

That's not the real problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748891)

Regardless of how many terrorist attacks it stopped, the main issue is that the government is infringing upon fundamental liberties, so even if it were effective, it shouldn't be allowed.

Pointing out the ineffectiveness of the program is all well and good, but I feel that we should not make this the main issue; freedom is what's most important.

"less controversial" (1)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#45748909)

the separate, and less controversial, NSA program, known as 702, to intercept communications overseas

Yeah, "less controversial" - unless you are, you know, part of the 95% of the world population that is outside of the US.

Sheesh.

Re:"less controversial" (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 months ago | (#45749035)

The subtext is that it's less controversial among people who could possibly constrain the NSA's activities in this area, i.e. U.S. citizens & politicians.

Red herring is red (1, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 months ago | (#45749003)

The collection of metadata wasn't supposed to stop attacks. It was supposed to help identify possible terrorists That would allow applying for further surveillance to stop any attack and help identify other terrorists who helped with an attack, especially a suicide attack.

Re:Red herring is red (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 months ago | (#45749501)

It went from "over 50" to "dozens" to "54" to "one or two"
These are public statements from the head of the NSA and the head of national intelligence.
Now we learned that the actual number of attacks prevented using their domestic data collection techniques is zero.

How is it a red herring to criticize the government for the statements that they made?

Re:Red herring is red (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749541)

Yeah. look at the job they did to stop the Boston booming. Whether you believe it or not, they been collecting data for years, if not decades.

NSA logic at its best (4, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | about 4 months ago | (#45749657)

Program A was never designed to do B

Program A was designed to do C, which could help in B

So by saying that A didn't help B is incorrect. C didn't do B. A helped C as designed.

This sort of retarded logic is all too common when technical people try and justify their failure.

The program as a whole hasn't worked. The metadata collection is part of the program, and it may be doing great - but it's value is basically 0, because the program's value is 0.

Of course we've spent billions of dollars on it with no real return. So there's that. It's kept a bunch of storage companies alive.

Not what it is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749007)

The NSA, by design, does not act on the intelligence that it gathers. Other agencies, such as the FBI for domestic and CIA or DIA for foreign matters, are supposed to act on this information. Thus any "prevented" terrorist acts would be attributed to the agencies that acted, not the NSA.

let's not be so pessimistic (5, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 months ago | (#45749045)

Another way of phrasing this is that the NSA's metadata collection program, while admittedly not perfect, has met or exceeded the benchmarks set by peer agencies, such as the TSA.

What the hell's a "Zero Attack"? (3, Funny)

tippe (1136385) | about 4 months ago | (#45749065)

That sounds scary as shit. Sounds like something Magneto would do. I don't know about you guys, but I'm sure glad the NSA is on my side. Keep up the good work, boys!

Re:What the hell's a "Zero Attack"? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 months ago | (#45749315)

The "Zero" refers to the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, a suicide-bombing device that's been manufactured in large quantities, many of which are currently unaccounted for. A "Zero attack" is a common kind of suicide bomber strategy that's killed thousands of Americans. Here's some footage. [youtube.com] It's not as popular as it used to be, but we can't risk letting up our vigilance, of course.

TSA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749083)

While we're on the subject, has the TSA stopped any attacks? Seems to me they let the passengers do much of the work.

lol...white house.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749143)

Barry also said people could keep their plans.....

Anyone who believes anything coming out of the White House is more of a moron than Barry.

Nearly one? (3, Funny)

iamriley (51622) | about 4 months ago | (#45749183)

Interviewer: Now tell me, what exactly are you doing?

Spotter: Er well, I'm camel spotting. I'm spotting to see if there are any camels that I can spot, and put them down in my camel spotting book.

Interviewer: Good. And how many camels have you spotted so far?

Spotter: Oh, well so far Peter, up to the present moment, I've spotted nearly, ooh, nearly one.

Interviewer: Nearly one?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RexQLrcqwc

They didn't say "as many as" (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#45749293)

which claimed as many as fifty prevented attacks

Are you sure they didn't say "up to fifty prevented attacks"? Zero counts!

Doesn't seem likely (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#45749357)

They are claiming that AT&T and Verizon's market share are dwarfed by 'bubba the goat's fancy magic wireless phone service'? I don''t think so.

Look at the source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749527)

The cherry-picked insiders couldn't get around admitting the spying has no benefit. Wonder what an actual review would yield...

Re:Look at the source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749637)

This article is the opposite. One guy says he was shocked that the NSA wouldn't provide details of what they did. Somehow that doesn't shock me.

Stopped Zero, Facilitated X? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45749705)

We already know about NSA agents spying on former girlfriends. How many other attacks on common decency were perpetrated?

RSA is complicit (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#45749741)

Wait 'til you hear the one about RSA taking $10million from the NSA to promote vulnerable security.

This is much much worse than many of us will admit. Despite all the other problems we face, this is the one that has to be tackled first. If we can't bring the out-of-control surveillance state to heel, nothing else can ever get really better.

And don't buy for a second the Obama Administration's press release about their "reforms" of NSA data collection. They're just trying to head off the serious challenges that are about to start coming down from the courts and from congress.

For a minute, I think we're going to have to put partisan politics aside to tackle this common threat: government surveillance.

Confirmation bias (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 4 months ago | (#45749747)

When I read the headline, my brain filled in "-Day" because of everybody constantly pounding on the term "Zero Day" around here.

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