According to various unnamed sources, reports are circulating that the National Security Agency is considering ditching a once secret phone surveillance program on Americans because it ‘lacks operational value.’
Of course, the NSA have been proven liars, so these unnamed sources could just be whistlin’ Dixie, and only plan to rename the massive data collection program in order to comply with new ‘regulations.’
“Luke Murray, a national security adviser for Republican congressional leadership, said in a recent podcast interview with the Lawfare security blog that the NSA hadn’t used the program in the past six months and might not seek its renewal when portions of the Patriot Act that authorize it expire at the end of the year.”
Neither the NSA nor the National Security Council responded to requests for verification, so the entire story is based on anonymous sources.
“The people familiar with the NSA’s internal deliberations cautioned that no final decision had been made and that the discussions about potentially ending the metadata program were in the early and informal stages.”
However, one internet user, who also claims to work for the NSA said that nothing will change in the collection of personal metadata, call logs, and other information.
One program is shutting down (according to who knows whom) but that doesn’t mean that other programs are doing the exact same thing. NY Times is again acting as a limited hangout  for various spy agencies.
One of the things we learned from Congressional hearings (from James Clapper and others) and from whistleblowers like William Binney and Snowden is that these intelligence agencies change the meaning of words. Things like “collection” and “analysis” don’t mean what you think they mean. When they say “we don’t collect X” that just means they don’t collect X under the program they’re testifying about. If there are other programs, they won’t tell you about those or will only testify in secret. Sometimes they outright lie about things too as we found out from Clapper’s testimony.
Anyway, don’t believe a word they say. This data is way too valuable to be abandoned. If not the NSA, someone else will be collecting it, analyzing it and disseminating it through some database within the IC.
Metadata, which the program supposedly collected, “includes the numbers and timestamps of a call or text message but not the contents of the conversation.”
“Portions of the Patriot Act are due to expire at the end of 2019, including the section of the law that authorizes the metadata program. Congress is expected to extend the expiring provisions of the law, but debate isn’t expected to begin in earnest until the fall, according to congressional aides on relevant committees.”
However, it’s not really for Congress to make the final decision.
“After nearly two years of debate fueled by Mr. Snowden’s disclosures, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act in 2015, requiring the spy agency to replace its bulk metadata program with a pared-down system under which call records were retained by the telephone companies.
“The new measures have allowed the NSA to request those records on an as-needed basis rather than ingest them wholly into its own servers.
“Privacy advocates have said the new system continues to pose troubling issues and that evidence of its value to national security is thin or nonexistent.”
“It seems clear to me that this is not a program that is needed for national security,” said Neema Singh Guliani, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. “One of the goals of the Freedom Act was to limit large-scale collection, and I think there are questions as to whether that law is achieving its goals.”
“Any final decision about whether to end the program would be made by the White House, not the NSA… But under scrutiny after the revelations of Mr. Snowden, intelligence officials struggled to demonstrate any examples when the program—in its old, more expansive form—had disrupted a terrorist plot.
“Despite the rollback under the USA Freedom Act, the NSA reported collecting 151 million call records in 2016 related to 42 terrorism suspects and 534 million in 2017 connected to 40 suspects. The NSA has previously announced deleting some records collected under the program due to technical issues involving what data telecommunications firms shared with the spy agency.”
Most people agree that regardless of what the NSA says, it will do what it has always done, which is monitor, collect, and spy on Americans, and then use the information for whatever gains the country’s ‘controllers’ deem fit.