President Obama found himself defending the practices of the National Security Agency to comedian Jay Leno last night. “We don’t have a domestic spying program,” said the Commander-in-Chief. “What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. That information is useful.”
If Obama’s denial sounds suspicious, it’s because he’s playing semantics. While the NSA is supposed to focus on foreign suspects, they can monitor any individual who corresponds (is “connected”) with terrorists. According to the NSA, surveillance programs sweep American communications up to 3 ‘hops’ from any suspect (a friend of a friend of a friend is 3 ‘hops’ in a network).
Most Americans are three degrees away from hundreds of thousands or even millions of other citizens. If I have 100 friends, and they each have 100 friends, I’m 2 degrees from 10,100 people (assuming there’s no overlapping friendships).
Using the ‘3 hop’ rule, the NSA can effectively spy on millions of Americans, even if they don’t technically start with domestic targets.
As he did in his first TV interview about the NSA, the President continues to play games to downplay the extent of domestic spying. When a politician doesn’t talk specifics, it’s usually because he or she is hiding something.
Watch the Interview below: