If Everything NSA Does is “Auditable,” Why Can’t NSA Tell Us How Many Americans They’ve Spied On?

NSA Director Keith Alexander just said this to the hackers at DefCon (while wearing an absolutely ridiculous hacker costume):

“We get oversight by Congress, both intel committees and their congressional members and their staffs,” he continued, “so everything we do is auditable by them, by the FISA court … and by the administration. And everything we do is accountable to them…. We are overseen by everybody. And I will tell you that those who would want to weave the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is absolutely false.”

But a month ago, Alexander’s Inspector General told Ron Wyden that an estimate of the number of people inside the United States who have had their communications collected or reviewed under the FISA Amendments Act “was beyond the capacity of his office.” Of note, the IG and NSA leadership–that is, presumably Alexander himself–claimed such a review would “violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”

I look forward to Ron Wyden’s response to Alexander’s seeming reversal on that earlier letter with claims of this unlimited auditability.

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10 Responses to If Everything NSA Does is “Auditable,” Why Can’t NSA Tell Us How Many Americans They’ve Spied On?

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @jujueyeball @mattfwood @dangillmor There are certain specified instances it covers. A man with a gun is not one of them, see e.g. Roof case
bmaz @jujueyeball @mattfwood @dangillmor Um, the pertinent statute is 18 USC §2331. It does NOT provide for domestic terrorism. Even DOJ says so.
JimWhiteGNV @emptywheel Returning to reality sucks.
emptywheel @JimWhiteGNV Whatup, dude? Our overperforming teams flopped on the same day?
bmaz @emptywheel @MasaccioEW @laRosalind But the Pac is so stupid this year, I seriously think USC may beat the Tree in Conf Champ game.
bmaz @emptywheel @MasaccioEW @laRosalind Probably not, but hope is still alive! It ain't over till it's over.
emptywheel @bmaz Stanford's not a player, in spite of McCaffrey's best efforts. @MasaccioEW @laRosalind
JimWhiteGNV Well, that was painful.
emptywheel In 47minutes one tiny fraction of the NSA dragnet will end. https://t.co/NftgwaowHa
bmaz @MasaccioEW @emptywheel @laRosalind Iowa and Stanford
emptywheel @astepanovich Yup, but this is an area where raising it might make Americans care. @normative @kurtopsahl @justiceunited