Six months ago we learned that the NSA keeps a record of pretty much every phone call made within, to, or from the United States. Because terrorists, of course. Which terrorists have been brought down by this mass collection of data? Can’t tell you… classified!
Nowadays, most of us have come to understand that “classified” means “embarrassing” more often than it means “secret that would aid our enemies.” The government, simply, has lost its credibility after having been shown to have abused our trust over and over. But for those who still give the government the benefit of the doubt, three men with access to the classified rationale behind the phone spying have gone on the record that “no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through less intrusive means.” These three men are U.S. Senators Udall, Wyden, Heinrich, all of whom are on the Senate’s Intelligence committee.
The Senators’ statement comes in the form of an amicus brief filed in First Unitarian Church v. NSA, which is the EFF’s challenge to NSA spying. This brief devastates any argument the government has, or planned to, put forward that the phone spying is necessary to fight terrorists. I have no idea how the U.S. attorneys arguing the other side can possibly defend their client at this point. Make some popcorn, the DoJ is about to have to get creative.