back to article Pre-Snowden NSA grunts wanted to nix phone spying: report

Even before Edward Snowden spilled the beans on the National Security Agency's(NSA's) extensive surveillance programs, high-level US bureaucrats were considering spiking the program. So says The Associated Press, thanks to unnamed sources who told the wire service the mass surveillance was disappointing as a counter-terrorism …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shut it down

    There just aren't that many terrorists around the United States. Not yet anyway. The few that are around are likely to slip through the system (Boston bombers). Then you have random depressed opportunists like Andreas Lubitz all over the globe. By all means continue to spend our money to violate the Constitution. Place your bets on whether the government will let go of a little power in June.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Convenient Escape

    This could be a convenient way for the NSA to cut down their phone surveillance. They can trim it down and say "Look, we were already considering it. We're absolutely not bowing to external pressure. There's no need to reform us as our internal processes are working."

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Convenient Escape

      Could be.. could be not. We don't know what the guys at the top think. Nor do we know if Congress is rational or just flat out of their minds. And by that I mean "have they lost touch with reality?" "Do they seriously believe this stops terrorism?" "Do really believe this doesn't go against the Constitution?"

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Convenient Escape

        "Nor do we know if Congress is rational or just flat out of their minds"

        Actually, I think we all know the answer to that one. And if you change Congress to Parliament you get the same answer.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: just flat out of their minds.

        Only from your perspective. They need the land line information to gather data on those dangerous TEA Party people now that they can't deny them tax exempt status. Haven't you heard? Those people are more dangerous than any sword wielding jihadist!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lol

    Of course it wouldn't happen. 50 billion a year just for the NSA and I can only imagine similar ridiculous sums for the FBI, CIA and the innumerable other 'intelligence agencies' over there. There are far too many vested interests suckling on the taxpayers teat to allow that to stop. They aren't a service and they sure aren't working for us, they're a cancer that's just going to keep on growing.

  4. boba1l0s2k9

    COINTELPRO

    Bah, this is just a planted story as a lead up to the NSA officially announcing that the program is closed, even though it will continue to run. No better way to get people off your back than to give them what they want. Who will really know one way or another?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: COINTELPRO

      I find it hard to believe a large intelligence organization would ever shut down any program until they found it was no longer economical (i.e., that the resources were better applied elsewhere). Why would they? And who could verify that they had?

      People don't go into intelligence because they have strong ethical or sympathetic reservations about infringing on others' civil liberties. The field selects for those who will do whatever they can get away with.

  5. scrubber
    Facepalm

    Hang on

    Did someone suggest the purpose of mass surveillance was to stop terrorism?

    That's the best laugh I've had all week.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anybody sniff a retrospective NSA media plant and back peddling ?

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Anybody sniff

      Nah.

      Haven't you ever watched The Mentalist? There's an episode where he fakes being a horse whisperer by claiming Win, Place, and Show at a track race. He did it by buying a ticket for each horse in each position, for the entire race.

      Spook agencies do the same thing. They got at least two teams writing contradicting reports/recommendations. Then they just pull the needed report when asked.

      1. phil dude
        Coat

        Re: Anybody sniff

        an upvote for the mentalist. Derren Brown with better hair...

        P.

  7. martinusher Silver badge

    It was probably test data

    From what I've heard of these programs the real reason for slurping up everything appeared to be to get a data set they could use to test search and filtering algorithms. Its one thing to collect gobs of data, its something else to make sense of it, so the obvious thing to do is to collate raw data with known traffic and use this to refine your algorithms. Once you've got everything working you can reduce your data inflow because now you know what you're actually looking for.

    The PR people trying to put a spin on this are just paid to put a spin on whatever isn't spinning. They probably don't have a very nuanced notion of what's going on and why.

  8. Sanctimonious Prick
    Pint

    Norway...

    Here I come!! (wish)

    Just had some Norwegian relatives visiting us in Australia. They've never heard of Hugh Jackman, Edward Snowden, the NSA, and don't even get much in the way of UK TV. Relevance? Faarkd if I know. But it would seem they don't have this crap to deal with/worry about. Geez I envy them!

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