The Washington Post published an interesting investigation today by Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani about how many ordinary Americans are caught up in the NSA dragnet. It’s worth reading in full.
Here are a few highlights of the Post article.
1. 9/10 of those in a large cache of NSA-intercepted conversations provided to the Post by Edward Snowden were not intended targets.
2. Many were Americans.
3. Nearly half of the surveillance files contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents.
4. NSA-intercepted communications led directly to the capture of at least two suspected terrorists.
5. Many other files retained tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. There are medical records, resumes, photos of women modeling lingerie, and academic transcripts.
6. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.
7. The material spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection.
8. Most of the people caught up in those programs are not the targets and would not lawfully qualify as legally permissible to target.
9. If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote. “1 target, 38 others on there,” one analyst wrote. She collected data on them all.
10. In other cases, the NSA designated as its target the IP address of a computer server used by hundreds of people.
Much more detail in the article.