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“Candle is Not Worth the Flame"

Please consider NSA Recommends Dropping Phone-Surveillance Program.

The National Security Agency has recommended that the White House abandon a surveillance program that collects information about U.S. phone calls and text messages, saying the logistical and legal burdens of keeping it outweigh its intelligence benefits, according to people familiar with the matter.

The surveillance program began clandestinely—and, at first, without court approval—under the George W. Bush administration in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The NSA operation has sought to collect the metadata of all domestic calls in the U.S. in order to hunt for links among potential associates of terrorism suspects. Metadata include the numbers and time stamps of a call or text message but not the contents of the conversation.

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked the existence of the program—along with a tranche of documents exposing other surveillance operations carried out by the NSA—to journalists nearly six years ago. The disclosures ignited an international uproar over the scope of America’s electronic-spying capabilities.

“The candle is not worth the flame,” one former senior intelligence official said about the phone-records program.

Snowden a Hero

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I consider Edward Snowden a hero for disclosing the depth and illegalities of all this collection to the world.

Recall that the NSA had even tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

Big Zero

The NSA defended the data collection as vital.

Many of us laughed at the assertion. I wondered how long it would take for the agency to become so swamped with useless data that it stopped looking at it.

Today, we have the answer.

And the total scorecard for this wasteful, intrusive, and illegal effort has been a big zero. Actually, the program had negative benefits. The time, energy, and money could have been spent on more productive ideas.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock