Privacy Board: NSA Internet Monitoring Is Legal, Has Been Effective in Fighting Terrorism

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Here’s some news on the NSA front that is causing great agita among the Greenwald cult: Privacy Board: NSA’s Internet Monitoring Is Legal.

Yes, the bipartisan, five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has found that:

  • The NSA's metadata collection programs are legal and constitutional.
  • The NSA employs "reasonable" safeguards designed to protect the rights of American citizens.

The board, including a Democratic federal judge, two privacy experts and two former Republican Justice Department officials, found that the NSA monitoring was legal and reasonable and that the NSA and other agencies take steps to prevent misuse of Americans’ data. Those steps include “minimization,” that redacts the names of Americans from intelligence reports unless they are relevant.

The board’s validation of the controversial NSA surveillance program stands in contrast to its last report in January, when it argued that the NSA’s collection of domestic calling records under Section 215 was unconstitutional. The Obama administration disagreed but has proposed to overhaul the program by ending NSA’s collection of the records.

“Overall, the board finds that the protections contained in the Section 702 minimization procedures are reasonably designed and implemented to ward against the exploitation of information acquired under the program for illegitimate purposes,” said the report, which is to be voted on at a public meeting Wednesday in Washington. “The board has seen no trace of any such illegitimate activity associated with the program, or any attempt to intentionally circumvent legal limits.”

The board also noted that current laws do allow an enormous amount of information to be collected by the NSA, and made some policy recommendations to further strengthen civil liberties and “ensure that the program remains tied to its constitutionally legitimate core.”

For example, the board recommends that NSA and CIA analysts query Section 702 data using the names or email addresses of Americans “only if the query is based upon a statement of facts showing that it is reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information.”

That’s not all. The PCLOB also found that the NSA’s programs, counter to the assertions made by Glenn Greenwald, has been effective in disrupting terrorist plots and discovering new connections between international terrorist groups.

As you might expect, the Grenwaldians are not happy about this. When the board’s first report in January suggested there might be some unconstitutional aspects to the NSA’s programs, they trumpeted it as a wonderful finding that vindicated their claims.

Today, their reaction is a bit different:

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