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New Report Shines Light on NSA’s Mishaps and Ineffective Surveillance

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Ezra Van Auken
Born and raised in Maryland, Ezra has learned to put up with cronyism, but inevitably escaped from the state paradigm. Self-taught and anchored by commitment to accurate reporting, he has worked independently and with media sources for over two years, bringing the question of government to your computer screen.

Unfortunately for National Security Agency (NSA) bureaucrats and policymakers in Congress, another report has seeped through the headlines showing yet more inconsistencies with government-approved stories on the NSA’s surveillance state. The latest report comes from the New American Foundation (NAF), which outright calls director Keith Alexander’s thwarted terror attacks claim misleading and overblown.

While the NAF does claim the federal government has stopped dozens of terrorist attacks, the organization believes NSA bulk data collection had “minimal” involvement in those thwarted plots. Jumping right in, out of the 225 allegedly foiled plots by state agents, roughly 1.3 percent of the plots were dismantled by “NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority.” And besides unidentified authority, the numbers are still low.

Crunching the numbers, NAF writes that NSA surveillance under section 702 of the Patriot Act was involved in 4.4 percent of thwarted plots. Under section 215, only 1.8 percent was deterred because of NSA surveillance. Simply put, NAF explains that the American surveillance complex hasn’t actually stopped terrorist plots, but rather, related plots that come secondary to the actual plot such as fundraising for groups.

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Even in one case of NSA intervention where exchange took place between San Diego cabdriver Basaaly Moalin and an al-Qaeda affiliate group al-Shabaab, the actual intervention took place two months later by FBI officials. Although the call between Moalin and the Somalian-based al-Shabaab occurred under the NSA’s radar, the actual surveillance and wiretapping by FBI agents happened months later, stalling the capture.

The NAF notes, “This undercuts the government’s theory that the database of Americans’ telephone metadata is necessary to expedite the investigative process, since it clearly didn’t expedite the process in the single case the government uses to extol its virtues.” Another case, which has been sprinkled with NSA exaggeration, is the David Coleman Headley and Najiullah Zazi’s case – better known as the NYE bomb plot. 
In addition, court files show other references where NSA surveillance played a role in tampering with terrorist activities, however the NAF was unable to detail how much of a role was played.

Concluding, the NAF believes the problem with NSA techniques is that once the information is compiled, officials are lacking the proper tools to actually do something with the compiled information, making it a soft point for stopping plots. 
With such low NSA intervention after bulk data collection, it’s a wonder whether or not the bureaucrats are actually doing this for national security or rather vast domestic surveillance of Americans.

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