It’s almost like having a whistleblower expose what the government is doing might lead to reform (but let’s cross our fingers and not underestimate the ability of the national security state to weather this just like the NRA weathered Sandy Hook, especially since there are so many willing accomplices on both sides of the aisle):
The outgoing director of the National Security Agency suggested on Thursday that the surveillance giant could accept only being allowed to collect domestic phone data related to terrorist communications, a shift away from its current practice of collecting all such call records regardless of whether there is a suspected connection to terrorism.
General Keith Alexander, testifying before the Senate armed services committee for what could be the final time as head of the NSA, told senators that one option under consideration in the Obama administration’s deliberations about revamping the NSA’s surveillance programs was to “get only that data” relating to terrorist communications.
“Can we come up with a capability that gets just those that are predicated on a terrorist communication?” Alexander said.
Alexander, who is due to end his nearly nine years running the NSA imminently, said there were “pros and cons” to that, as well as to the other proposed options for the future of domestic phone data collection, one of which is having the government continue to gather it in bulk while having a private entity, such as the telephone companies, store it.
In the nine months since the Guardian revealed the NSA’s bulk gathering of US phone data, thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, Alexander has been a passionate defender of retaining the scale of such collection, regardless of whether the interception and retention is conducted by the NSA or by a private-sector entity.
Even that is horseshit in a sense, given how widely we have defined terrorism these days. Regardless, the fact that these guys even need to pay lip service to Congress is such a sea change from a year ago. I’d talk more, but Glenn Greenwald and I are talking about splitting our Soros check and whether or not we should just donate the whole thing to the Edward Snowden Dudebro Mancrush Cult of Personality Fund.
And yes, I am trolling you. But just let me inform you that if I see you using the phrase dudebro or mansplaining, my eyes immediately glaze over. I’ll also note that until now, I have not mentioned Obama in this post, so you don’t need to go into hyperactive defense mode to protect the most powerful man on the planet from my non-existent commentary regarding him.