I just got flashbacks of seeing congressmen debate on C-SPAN whether there were, in fact, any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Only a decade ago, Members of select intelligence committees saw identical pieces of evidence and came to vastly different conclusions. Now, it’s happening again with the National Security Agency: Senator Mark Udall has written, “We have not yet seen any evidence showing that the NSA’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records has produced any uniquely valuable intelligence.”
Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and his tech-savvy, privacy-happy counterpart, Senator Ron Wyden (CrunchGov Grade: A), have come out swinging against claims that the NSA’s Internet and phone snooping have actually had any of the alleged benefits.
“As far as we can see, all of the useful information that it has provided appears to have also been available through other collection methods that do not violate the privacy of law-abiding Americans in the way that the Patriot Act collection does. We hope that President Obama will probe the basis for these assertions, as we have,” the two wrote.
The strongly-worded letter is in response to the NSA director claiming that its sweeping programs have prevented dozens of terrorist attacks. Of course, the evidence will only be disclosed to members of congress behind closed doors. Most leading members of congress, such as Democratic California Senator Diane Feinstein, came out in support of the NSA’s projects soon after they were revealed. So, for citizens, that means you need to pick which Senator you believe–on blind faith–and start cheering them on.
Let’s hope that we’re not reliving the weapons of mass destruction debate and that there’s some facts that everyone can agree on.