NSA Honcho: We Kill People on the Basis of Metadata, but You Can Trust Us with Yours

I’m completely flabbergasted that someone would offer such an admission as a defense of the NSA as if it could possibly reassure Americans. For months and months we heard that the NSA spying was no big deal because they only sucked up “the metadata” of all those phone calls. How important can the metadata be if they aren’t (as they claim) collecting the content of those calls. Important enough to use to decide whether or not to kill people! From the ABC News blog we get a report on the statement of General Michael Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency.

Hayden made the remark after saying he agreed with the idea that metadata – the information collected by the NSA about phone calls and other communications that does not include content – can tell the government “everything” about anyone it’s targeting for surveillance, often making the actual content of the communication unnecessary.

“[That] description… is absolutely correct. We kill people based on metadata. But that’s not what we do with this metadata,” said Hayden, apparently referring to domestic metadata collection. “It’s really important to understand the program in its entirety. Not the potentiality of the program, but how the program is actually conducted.”

Everything that follows is about how we can trust the good people at the NSA to never unilaterally abuse all that power they have behind the veil of secrecy.

“So NSA gets phone records, gets them from the telephone company, been getting them since October of 2001 from one authority or another, puts them in a lockbox… and under very strict limitations can access the lockbox,” Hayden said and then described a hypothetical situation in which a number connected to a terrorist could be run against the metadata already collected to help investigators find additional leads in the name of national security.

If it is so secure, how did Edward Snowden walk out with all their secrets? Why were they unable to even figure out what data he had taken? How did all those people manage to stalk love interests and commit other surveillance crimes and only get discovered because they confessed?