I have only glossed the surface in reading about Bush’s NSA snooping scandal, which is looking less like a scandal and more like a low level debate about accountability of intelligence gathering during wartime.
However, in reading this 60 minutes transcript from February of 2000 regarding the subject (and, as Glenn Reynolds notes: note that date. It’s not just Bush), where Steve Kroft interviews an ex-spy, I am more concerned for the intelligence of the analysts reading the conversations.
Q: Is it possible for people like you and I, innocent civilians, to be targeted by Echelon?
Mr. FROST: Not only possible, not only probable, but factual. While I was at CSE, a classic example: A lady had been to a school play the night before, and her son was in the school play and she thought he did a--a lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend something like this, 'Oh, Danny really bombed last night,' just like that. The computer spit that conversation out. The analyst that was looking at it was not too sure about what the conversation w--was referring to, so erring on the side of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number in the database as a possible terrorist.
Really? As an intelligence analyst, you listened to some conversation a mom was having about her son and that translated: terrorist? Yikes, I’m more afraid of the CIA than ever.
I note that later in the show, they interview European Parliamentary members about their concern that the US is using the information they get for American industry. Which to me, just sounds like sorry loser ranting. Take it to court, and win, and then I’ll take that whining seriously.