NSA quietly stops spying on citizens' phone calls and texts

  • 7 March 2019
  • NormanL

The National Security Agency (NSA) appears to have ended its long-running and highly problematic phone data program:

The National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system that analyzes logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts, according to a senior Republican congressional aide, halting a program that has touched off disputes about privacy and the rule of law since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year, according to the aide, Luke Murry, the House minority leader’s national security adviser.

We strongly suggest the administration let this lingering vestage of the hastily produced Patriot Act lapse. Part of the reason? During the time the NSA has stopped using it, national security has not suffered:

The disclosure that the program has apparently been shut down for months “changes the entire landscape of the debate,” said Daniel Schuman, the policy director of Demand Progress, an advocacy group that focuses on civil liberties and government accountability.

Since “the sky hasn’t fallen” without the program, he said, the intelligence community must make the case that reviving it is necessary — if, indeed, the National Security Agency thinks it is worth the effort to keep trying to make it work.

The phone records program had never thwarted a terrorist attack, a fact that emerged during the post-Snowden debate.

Never stopped a terrorist attack, but did spy on American citizens. Not a good trade-off.

Let it expire.