And in case you hadn't guessed, this bureaucracy is endlessly complicated, wasteful, and unchecked. And thanks to FISA and the Patriot Act, which basically legalized warrantless eavesdropping, the data flow is enormous:
Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases. The same problem bedevils every other intelligence agency, none of which have enough analysts and translators for all this work.And yet they keep telling us we have to give up our privacy for our safety. But as Glenn Greenwald explained, all this surveillance is not keeping us safe:
But as I wrote many times back then -- often by interviewing and otherwise citing House Intelligence Committee member Rush Holt, who has been making this point repeatedly -- the more secret surveillance powers we vest in the Government, the more we allow the unchecked Surveillance State to grow, the more unsafe we become. That's because the public-private axis that is the Surveillance State already collects so much information about us, our activities and our communications -- so indiscriminately and on such a vast scale -- that it cannot possibly detect any actual national security threats. NSA whistle blower Adrienne Kinne, when exposing NSA eavesdropping abuses, warned of what ABC News described as "the waste of time spent listening to innocent Americans, instead of looking for the terrorist needle in the haystack."This is almost enough to make me join the shouting teabaggers demanding smaller government -- except that the Queen Teabagger wants to exempt defense spending from the group's anti-spending fervor.
Be sure to read tomorrow's WaPo article which will surely describe how all this spending is making a few private contractors filthy rich while giving us nothing in return.