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High-Level Independent Review: NSA Phone Spying Is Illegal, Should End

Illustration for article titled High-Level Independent Review: NSA Phone Spying Is Illegal, Should End

An independent review, by a board made up of senior ex-government members, has concluded that the National Security Agency's long-running program to collect phone records is illegal and should stop.


The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) has written a report—whose contents was shared with Obama ahead of his speech last week—which states that the statute upon which the spying is based "does not provide an adequate basis to support this program." In other words, it's illegal and should be stopped.


The panel's conclusions go further than Obama's. While the President is insistent that the NSA's ventures are vital for national security, the independent panel is less convinced:

"We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation. Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack."

The 238-page report is bound to cause debate, especially given that it disagrees with Obama, 15 federal surveillance court judges and the Justice Department— but agrees with the rest of us—in concluding that the actions of the NSA cannot be grounded in Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

The board was made up of Rachel L. Brand and Elisebeth Collins Cook (Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration), David Medine (former Federal Trade Commission official in the Clinton administration), James X. Dempsey (public policy expert with the Center for Democracy & Technology), and Patricia M. Wald (a retired federal appeals court judge).


The board wasn't unanimous on the issue of ending bulk collection, with Brand and Collins both concluding that the program could be modified in such a way as to make it fit to continue. Regardless, though, the message is clear: not all senior officials think that what the NSA is doing is good or proper. [Washington Post]

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I Wish My Name Was Dax

Honestly, what the hell is wrong with this article? There are about thirty grammar, syntax, and verb tense mistakes (well...actually only three, but they're pretty obvious).

"...the statute upon which the spying is "does not..."

"The The 238-page report..."

"...with Brand and Collins both concluding that the program could be modified in such as it be fit to continue."

Also...the first sentence is misleading. The board is not made up of high level members of anything. The members are all former government officials and a current policy expert at a non-governmental think tank. Most of them are attorneys who are in private practice who served under the Bush and Clinton administrations but do not currently hold public office.

C'mon're better than this.