back to article FBI spies on how many?

The US House Judiciary Committee has sent a letter to the director of national intelligence James Clapper asking him exactly how many US citizens the security services are spying on. "We write to ask that you provide us with a public estimate of the number of communications or transactions involving United States persons …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    If you want an honest answer?

    It's already been established that Clapper is authorized to lie so what's the point of asking him? Oh wait, it's an election year isn't it - this is just political clickbait.

    1. g e

      Re: If you want an honest answer?

      I'd expect a totally fudged answer that points in the direction of the truth but from the imagination of professional liars and inveiglers.

      He should be compelled to provide his sampling methodology publicly, also, esp if he's only doing 'one run' at the figures.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well this isn't going to turn out well. Recall that Clapper has an interesting definition of collect, i.e. the records that turn up in a keyword search and are read by a human. Gathering everything that crosses the web, well that's not relevant, so we don't count all those individuals' records.

    So, as Version 1.0 calls it, political click-bait.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @Jack of Shadows - Five years is enough for some to rather annoyed. Clapper is forgetting that mutinous Congress critters might actually do something to rein him in like cut some budgets rather sharply if not defund some. Posturing is there but it is early in the season yet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's why programs like this are on a black budget. There's no way to defund it, because it is lumped in with a lot of other black budget stuff that they'll want to keep.

        The real choke chain they have on him is to not renew the law that allows him to do this at all. Even the 'illegal' spying that Bush started and Obama continued that was revealed by Snowden was 'legal' based on an interpretation of a law from a White House lawyer that the AG approved. No one in the intelligence or law enforcement community is going to maintain a program spying on US citizens without some law to cover his butt, so if the congress is pissed enough they can uncover his butt and force the program to end.

        I'm sure lapdogs like Feinstein and Burr will always vote for whatever spying the FBI wants, but you just need to piss off some of the middle of the road guys to join the odd anti-spying alliance of far right guys who are above all suspicious of government and far left guys who above all believe in civil liberties, and the law won't be renewed next year.

  3. Herby
    Trollface

    Pick a number...

    Between 1 and 1,000,000. It should be in there somewhere. Rough enough??

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Pick a number...

      Guaranteed to be less than 8 billion... there aren't that many people yet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pick a number...

        A lot of muslims seem to go by multiple names, so the FBI might have a list longer than 8 billion, you never know!

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Pick a number...

      He's asking for US citizens. There are roughly 300 million of them, so that's your upper limit.

      Wikipedia estimates 280 million Internet users, not all of whom will be citizens.

      So my guess is around a quarter of a billion if we include spying done on the NSA's behalf by other agencies, but that wasn't the question asked.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Make sure you wash your hands after reading Clapper's response

    You don't want to know what orifice he pulled it out of.

  5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Exactly how many US citizens the security services are spying on? Why, all of them!

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Why is this article tucked away as part of the rapidly disappearing news bytes? Come to that, why is anything? If it's not fit for the main page just ignore it.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Perhaps they should have asked...

    How many US Citizens are NOT being spied upon and why are they not?

    But chickened out?

    1. Jimbo in Thailand

      Re: Perhaps they should have asked...

      Yep, could probably count the number of US citizens not being spied on using Clapper's fingers and toes. Of course, to get a more accurate answer Clapper would have to be waterboarded. While I'm 1,000,000% against waterboarding, aka torture, in this case I'll make an exception.

  8. gnufrontier

    Not worth the screen space

    This is not news. It's just another picture of the hot dog factory.

  9. Graham Marsden
    Alert

    Two answers:

    1) All of them.

    No, just a moment...

    2) We just redefined the word "spying", so now it's none of them.

    Happy to help :-)

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