A Year of Surveillance Change-Up

by Mark Wilson

Thanks to Edward Snowden, the NSA has consistently had to walk back statements that turned out later to be outright lies. It makes you wonder why anyone would trust anything the government says about surveillance.

First: there’s tons of oversight, so don’t worry. But it turns out that Congress isn’t even being told what’s going on. And the FISA Court is not equipped to scrutinize the NSA’s claims.

Second: the NSA isn’t conducting bulk surveillance on millions of Americans. Whoops, turns out they are. And when NSA Director James Clapper said it wasn’t, well, that was sort of … not true. But it was the “least untrue” thing to say.

Third: it’s just metadata, kids. We’re not actually getting the content of the communications. Oops, actually we are. Lots of it.

Fourth: don’t worry, this is all authorized by law. Except when it’s not. Oh, and also not when it’s done outside the law through brute-force hacking.