The damage being done by Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s terrorist surveillance activities is being compounded by the administration’s damage control efforts.
Last week, an article in the Wall Street Journal Friday disclosed that the National Security Agency doesn’t collect information directly from T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless because of their foreign ownership ties.
Now, we learn from another Wall Street Journal article that the NSA does not collect cell-phone location records. The Journal reported Monday that:
The National Security Agency sweeps up data on millions of cellphones and Internet communications under secret court orders. But as it mounts a rigorous defense of its surveillance, the agency has disclosed new details that portray its efforts as tightly controlled and limited in scope, while successful in thwarting potential plots.
On Sunday, officials said that though the NSA is authorized to collect “geolocational” information that can pinpoint the location of callers, it chooses not to….
As part of this program, however, the NSA chooses not to collect such data as the nearest cellphone tower used to place or receive a mobile call, U.S. officials said. In a statement released this weekend, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the NSA program doesn’t collect “any cell phone locational information.”
The US officials cited in the report said that “the data doesn’t provide sufficient intelligence value to justify the resources that would be required to use it.” Excuse me? “Locational information” on terrorists using cell phones doesn’t provide “sufficient intelligence value”? I would think getting locational information on terrorists is the entire point of the enterprise.
The Obama administration seems to be so focused on demonstrating how limited the NSA’s program is that it is disclosing even more information about the NSA’s activities — disclosures that are being studied by our enemies and that are helping them to evade detection.