Trust us

So, it’s revealed that the NSA broke its own rules so badly that a judge almost shut down one of the programs:

In a sharply worded March 2009 ruling, Judge Reggie B. Walton described the NSA’s failure to comply with rules set by the intelligence court, set limits on how it could use the data it had gathered, and accused the agency of repeatedly misinforming the judges.

“The government has compounded its noncompliance with the court’s orders by repeatedly submitting inaccurate descriptions of the alert list process” to the court, Walton wrote. “It has finally come to light that the FISC’s authorizations of this vast collection program have been premised on a flawed depiction of how the NSA uses” the phone call data.

Walton’s ruling, originally classified as top secret, did not go that far. But he wrote that the privacy safeguards approved by the court “have been so frequently and systematically violated” that they “never functioned effectively.”

And here’s the explanation:

A senior US intelligence official, briefing reporters before the documents’ release, admitted the sting of the court’s reprimand but said the problems came in a complex, highly technical program and were unintentional.

“There was nobody at NSA who really had a full understanding of how the program was operating at the time,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The official noted that the agency itself discovered the problem, reported it to the court and to Congress, and worked out new procedures that the court approved.

Wow, they made a mistake because they really didn’t understand what they were doing. How do we know there isn’t a similar problem right now? We don’t. We have to trust the NSA to understand its operations and report when they do something wrong. Given what’s known about the NSA, I don’t trust them.

Oh, and they still have not shown that this program is necessary.


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